Since shepherds began discovering them in a series of caves on the West Bank between 1947 and 1956, you’d have to have some pretty high-falutin’ credentials to gaze closely upon the two-millennia old Dead Sea Scrolls. And even though they’ve been published as books in recent years for the inspection of interested scholars without endangering the preservation of these world treasures, soon the layman will need only an Internet connection to read them from anywhere in the world.
Thanks to a collaboration between Dead Sea Scrolls custodian the Israel Antiquities Authority and Google, all 30,000 fragments will be scanned and made available to the lowbrow and hoity toity, alike. Jeffrey Heller of Reuters writes:
“The images will be equal in quality to the actual physical viewing of the scrolls, thus eliminating the need for re-exposure of the Scrolls and allowing their preservation for future generations,” the Authority said in a statement.
It said that the new technology would help to expose writing that has faded over the centuries and promote further research into one of the most important archaeological finds of the 20th century.
The scrolls, most of them on parchment, are the oldest copies of the Hebrew Bible and include secular text dating from the third century BC to the first century AD.
Source: Dead Sea scrolls going digital on Internet [Reuters]