The Dead Sea Scrolls Are Coming to the Internet

Dead Sea Scrolls
A portion of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Back in 1947, a Bedouin goat herder stumbled upon the archaeological discovery of the century in a place called Qumran in what is now the West Bank. What he found in there is what we refer to as The Dead Sea Scrolls. The importance of these scrolls to history and faith is still yet to be determined as much of their contents have been jealously guarded.

Thanks to the rise of the internet, the scrolls themselves will be open to all eventually as scientists have announced that they will be publishing the scrolls on the internet using American space technology:

Scientists using American space technology have started a huge project to digitally photograph the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest known version of the Hebrew Bible, and post it on the Internet for all to see, Israeli authorities said Wednesday.

High-tech cameras using infrared photography are being used to uncover sections of the 2,000-year-old scrolls that have faded over the centuries and become indecipherable, the Israeli Antiquities Authority said.

The project is expected to take about five years and the goal is to make the scrolls accessible to scientists and the general public, Antiquities Authority official Pnina Shor said.

“Now for the first time the scrolls will be a computer click away,” said Shor, who heads the authority’s department responsible for the conservation of artifacts. “This will ensure that the scrolls are preserved for another 2,000 years.”

The internet has been a boon for amateur archaeologists and anthropologists as historical records have been finding their way into the virtual world. The two best examples are The Domesday Book from Medieval England and the Ellis Island Records from the turn of the century USA. I have no doubt that the Dead Sea Scrolls will prove just as fascinating as these two already available online.

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