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Culture & Religion

Dead Sea Scrolls Available Online

Now you can get a close-up glimpse of the Dead Sea Scrolls, those ancient manuscripts penned by a small Jewish sect, with a few keystrokes on your personal computer.

What’s the Latest Development?

With Google as its partner, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem will launch a new website that allows the public to examine the Dead Sea Scrolls in fine detail. “The site provides searchable, high-resolution images of the scrolls, plus explanatory videos and background on the foundational texts.” To date, five scrolls in the museum’s collection have been digitized: the Great Isaiah Scroll, the Community Rule Scroll, the Commentary on Habakkuk Scroll, the Temple Scroll and the War Scroll. The website is part of the Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Project. 

What’s the Big Idea?

Hidden in caves outside Jerusalem while the city was sacked by the Romans, the scrolls were written between the first and third centuries B.C. “They were not unearthed again until 1947, when a Bedouin shepherd of the Ta’amra tribe threw a rock in a cave and realized something lay inside.” The discovery was perhaps archaeology’s biggest find of the twentieth century. Since 1965, those who wanted to view these famous texts would have to travel to Jerusalem, but now, with Google’s high-resolution digital cameras, everyone can have a look at some of the founding texts of Western civilization. 


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