Five of the most important Dead Sea scrolls appeared on the Internet on Monday in what their custodians say will be a broader effort to make the celebrated manuscripts available to anyone who has a computer, AP reports.
The initiative, a joint project of the Israel museum and Internet giant Google, put online Monday the Great Isaiah Scroll, War Scroll, Habakkuk commentary, Temple Scroll, and scroll of Community Rule.
Web-viewers can search high-resolution images of the scrolls for specific passages, zoom in and out, and translate verses into English
The five scrolls are among some 900 manuscripts purchased by Israeli researchers between 1947 and 1967 from antiquities dealers after having first been discovered by a Bedouin shepherd in the Judean Desert.
The Dead Sea scrolls are considered to have been written or collected by an ascetic Jewish sect at Qumran overlooking the Dead Sea, some 2,000 years ago. The Isaiah text found there matched the Biblical text in our possession, thus acting as a corroboration of Biblical textual accuracy.
For decades, the Dead Sea Scrolls were the subject of intense academic dispute, not just because of interpretations of content but also because only a select group of researchers had access to them.
Project directors hope to have nearly all the scrolls, considered one of the most valuable archeological finds of the last century, available online in 2016.