Anyone with a pulse has heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ancient manuscripts that reveal details about the formation of Judaism during the Hellenistic period and offer insight into the relationship between early Christian and Jewish religious traditions. Up until now, they were just relics that you read about in your history class, now a partnership between the Israel Antiquities Authority and Google will allow you to actually read them online. On Tuesday, the two groups announced an ambitious plan to digitize the Dead Sea Scrolls and make the entire collection available to the public online.
Made up of 30,000 fragments from 900 manuscripts, the Dead Sea Scrolls are considered by many historians to be one of the most important archaeological finds ever made. The ancient manuscripts, made of leather, papyrus and copper, were first discovered in 1947 by a nomadic shepherd in a cave near the Dead Sea. In the years that followed, more scroll fragments were located with some dating back over 2,000 years.
The project will employ the latest in spectral and infrared imaging technology to scan the thousands of scroll fragments into one large database. While the project is being done for the good of mankind, it also has a very practical purpose. In decades past, flawed preservation and display practices had in some cases caused “catastrophic” consequences and so this effort is being undertaken in order to create an authentic master copy so that the actual scrolls no longer need to be exposed and can be properly preserved.
The group has said that the first images could be online within months. Google has said this project is not for profit and is not exclusive, so I commend both groups for doing something that just might benefit us all. To read this full story hop on over to CNN and check out the rest of the details.