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December 19, 2012

5,000 Fragments of The Dead Sea Scrolls Digitized with the Help of Google

By Frank Griffin, TMCnet Contributing Writer

The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 in a cave in Khirbet Qumran was seen as one of the greatest archeological discoveries in modern times. The scrolls hold great significance to Christians and Jews. When they were discovered they were in remarkably good condition. The dry weather of the desert preserved the scrolls for 2,000 years, but there was also considerable damage to some of the scrolls. Digitizing the scrolls guarantees the content will always be available, and people around the world will be able to experience the documents in great detail.

The project is a collaboration between the Israel Museum and Google (News - Alert). The 5,000 fragments that were pieced together include the Great Isaiah Scroll, Community Rule Scroll, Commentary on Habakkuk Scroll, Temple Scroll, and War Scroll.


The scrolls are displayed in ultra-high resolution images of 1,200 mega pixels each. The images were taken with a sensitive UV-protected flash mechanism to protect the manuscripts from further damage. Cataloging the content in this way gives scholars around the world a more detailed look compared to the naked human eye. The image can be enlarged so the smallest details can be scrutinized. The content of the scroll can be searched using different parameters including verse, chapter, and column as well as translations in multiple languages.

“We are privileged to hose in the Israel Museum’s Shrine of the Book the best preserved and most complete Dead Sea Scrolls ever discovered. They are of paramount importance among the touchstones of monotheistic world heritage, and they represent unique highlights of our museum’s encyclopedic holdings. Now, through our partnership with Google, we are able to bring these treasures to the broadest possible public,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher, directors of the Israel Museum.

The website gives the user detailed information with images, text and video about the scrolls.

The Israel Museum in Jerusalem was founded in 1965 and it holds some of the most extensive Biblical and Holy Land archeological assets in the world, including the Dead Sea Scrolls. The museum is home to almost half a million artifacts.

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