Dead Sea Scroll research enters the digital era

New digital tools make Dead Sea Scrolls available in ways they never were before.

Raphael Poch ,

Dead Sea Scrolls Go Digital
Dead Sea Scrolls Go Digital
Israel Antiquities Authority

70 years after the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls the entire corpus of ancient work, including all of the minute fragments, will be available to researchers as well as the public via the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scroll Digital Library under a new joint project that is being carried out by antiquities researchers and computer science technicians.

The new project, which reportedly cost 1.6 million Euro to set up, is being conducted by Haifa University, Tel Aviv University, the University of Goettingen in Germany and the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). The funding for the project is being provided by the German-Israeli Project Cooperation Foundation (DIP), which is managed by the German National Foundation for Research (DFG).

The Conservation laboratory for the Dead Sea Scrolls in Jerusalem houses thousands of scrolls and scroll fragments, and due to technological advances in recent years, all of these fragments have been made available online since the Leon Levy Library first began in 2012.

According to the IAA website, these advancements will now allow a new style of collaborative analysis involving researchers from all over the world to simultaneously study the fragments and collaborate on research. Among the research initiatives expected to arise out of the new integrated online system are new analytical editions of the scrolls and collaborative publications. These initiatives will be made easier with the new online research tools which the project will be making available including a comprehensive dictionary for the language of the scrolls and a paleographic writing analyzer, as well as a database of similar texts found in Second Temple era literature.

Another new development of the project will be new suggestions regarding how to put the pieces of the scrolls together, in a much faster and easier format online than would ever be possible by hand. The new “puzzle” feature will also be available to researchers in an effort to help them find new possible ways to put the pieces of the scrolls together.