When they were discovered in caves in the Judean Desert near the Dead Sea in the 1940s and 1950s, the Dead Sea scrolls caused a sensation among scholars of the ancient Near East. The scrolls, which date from 150 BC to AD 70, include the oldest known surviving writings that correspond to biblical texts. They also include other religious texts that are not included in the Bible, along with texts considered to be secular. From the time of their discovery, the scrolls have been of great interest to scholars and a focus of debate and controversy.
Now scholars are preparing to get a closer look at the scrolls. Photos of the documents have been available for many years, details can “disappear” from delicate ancient fragments of parchment and papyrus. Those details have been restored and will now be revealed, thanks to a project led by the Israel Antiquities Authority. All of the scrolls are being digitized, using multispectral imaging technology originally developed by NASA. This process captures data at specific frequencies across the electromagnetic spectrum. That is, it uses more than visible light to record images. Letters and other details that have faded become apparent. The resulting images may actually be clearer than even the originals. These images will be posted online, where anyone can examine them free of charge.
- Pictures: Dead Sea Scrolls Being Digitized for Web
This Web site explores the process being utilized to enhance the Dead Sea scrolls; it shows what a scroll example looks like during multispectral imaging.
(Source: National Geographic Daily News, October 20, 2010)
- The Importance of Discoveries in the Judean Desert
An article by Uzi Dahari provides background on the Dead Sea scrolls and their significance.
(Source: Israel Antiquities Authority, October 20, 2010)
- Scrolls from the Dead Sea: The Ancient Library of Qumran and Modern Scholarship
Information from an exhibit at the Library of Congress traces the history of the Dead Sea scrolls.
(Source: www.ibiblio.org; accessed October 31, 2010)