The Dead Sea Scrolls are uncontroversially one of the great archaeological finds of the last few centuries, providing historical, theological, social, and even linguistic insight into the earliest development of Hebrew scriptures. And now they’re online, thanks to a collaboration with Google and an innovative photography technique used by the Israeli Antiquity Authority (IAA) to produce high-resolution images of the 2,000-year-old texts. Even writing that had long ago become invisible to the naked eye was brought out.
The technology itself was developed a few years ago. The Open Culture blog had already written about the IAA-Google collaboration in late 2012, noting that the IAA was steadily increasing the content it was making available online (the same post also described efforts that Google is making to become a major facilitator of cultural preservation, including “a collaboration with Red de Juderías de España to create a digital map of Spain’s Jewish heritage.”)
Images were rendered using multispectral photographic methods that reproduce the documents in exceptionally high quality. The site — available in English, German, Arabic, and Hebrew versions — also provides commentary and explanations on some of the more famous scrolls including a book of Exodus written in paleo-Hebrew script, the books of Samuel, the Temple Scroll, Songs of Shabbat Sacrifice, and New Jerusalem. On the new Dead Sea Scrolls site, surfers can search for phrases in Hebrew or English and match fragments, sort the fragments according to the caves where each was originally found, and view the locations on Google Maps.
There’s even a tagged Google Map allowing viewers to learn more about the discovery sites.
[Photo: Library of Congress / WikiCommons ]