Daily Israel Report

Dead Sea Scrolls Online Library Launched

Israel Antiquities Authority and Google launch the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library website.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 12/18/2012, 12:42 PM

On the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Israel Antiquities Authority and Google announced on Monday the launch of the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library website at www.deadseascrolls.org.il.

The public is invited to experience, view, examine, and explore this collection of over 5000 images of Dead Sea Scrolls, in a quality never seen before.

The library was assembled over the course of two years, in collaboration with Google, using advanced technology first developed by NASA. It includes some 1000 new images of scroll fragments; 3500 scans of negatives from the 1950s; a database documenting about 900 manuscripts, two thousand years old, comprising thousands of scroll fragments; and interactive content pages.

The site enables scholars and millions of users worldwide to reveal and decipher details hence invisible to the naked eye. It displays infra-red and color images at a resolution of 1215 dpi, at a 1:1 scale, equivalent in quality to the original scrolls. Google has provided hosting services and use of Google Maps, image technology and YouTube.

The project was made possible by an exceptionally generous grant from the Leon Levy Foundation, and further contribution by the Arcadia Fund, as well as the support of the Yad Hanadiv Foundation.

One of the earliest known texts is a copy of the Book of Deuteronomy, which includes the Ten Commandments. In addition, the library features a part of chapter 1 of the Book of Genesis, dated to the first century BCE, which describes the creation of the world; a number of copies of Psalms scrolls; tiny texts of tefillin from the Second Temple period; letters and documents hidden by refugees fleeing the Roman army during the Bar Kochba Revolt; and hundreds of additional 2000-year-old texts, shedding light on biblical studies, the history of Judaism and the origins of Christianity.

Shuka Dorfman, Director of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said: "Only five conservators worldwide are authorized to handle the Dead Sea Scrolls. Now, everyone can 'touch' the scrolls on-screen around the globe, and view them in spectacular quality, equivalent to the original!"

The scrolls are considered the most important archaeological discovery of the 20th century.