Monday, September 26, 2011

Dead Sea Scrolls Go Online

After the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in a cave in Qumran in the winter of 1946–47 by Muhammed edh-Dhib, a Bedouin boy, and his cousin, it still took two decades until they were placed on display in a museum. Now, about 65 years after their discovery they can now be accessed online.

Today, the Israel Museum launched the Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Project, which provides access to high-resolution images of the scrolls, as well as additional data and background information. This is a joint project between the Israel Antiquities Authority and Google, which has a research and development center in Israel.

So far, five scrolls have been digitized: the Great Isaiah Scroll, the Community Rule Scroll, the Commentary on Habakkuk Scroll, the Temple Scroll and the War Scroll. It marks the first time that the collection of scrolls is being photographed in its entirety since the 1950s. The entire collection includes 900 manuscripts comprising about 30,000 Dead Sea Scrolls fragments.

“We are privileged to house in the Israel Museum’s Shrine of the Book the best preserved and most complete Dead Sea Scrolls ever discovered,” said James Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher director of the Israel Museum. “They are of paramount importance among the touchstones of monotheistic world culture, and they represent unique highlights of our Museum’s encyclopedic holdings. Now, through our partnership with Google, we are able to bring these treasures to the broadest possible public.”

The site allows for comments from users and offers insightful videos to further ones understanding of the scroll being viewed. The Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library project is being funded with a major gift from the Leon Levy Foundation, with additional major funding from the Arcadia Foundation and the Yad Hanadiv Foundation.

Academics once had to travel to Israel to research the Dead Sea Scrolls, but the scrolls' accessibility online should now yield an even greater amount of higher biblical scholarship in the coming years. This is not Google's first time being involved in digitization project of this nature. Past projects have included the Google Art Project, Yad Vashem Holocaust Collection and the Prado Museum in Madrid. The scrolls are accessible online.


rachel kapen said...

I knew the project was in the offing but was delighted to read this morning in Maariv and then in this blog- which told me how to acess the website, which I already did and will do it many more times. I wish it would also come to the attention of all those- and they are many- who deny that the Jews have no tie to the land which they call: Palestine. Of course, I doubt it.
I do remember the great ecitement in Israel when they first discovered. We knew them mostly by the name: HaMegillot HaGnuzot- The Concealed Scrolls. Kol HaKavod to Google for this awesome project.

Dorothy D. Resig said...

Now that the Dead Sea Scrolls can be viewed online, find out what these ancient texts really say and what makes them so important.

The Web site of the Biblical Archaeology Society, publisher of Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR), features a free, exclusive online section called The Dead Sea Scrolls and Why They Matter, which tells the complete story of the scrolls—from their historical context and chance discovery by a Bedouin shepherd to the cast of characters and the academic publishing scandal that kept many of the scrolls hidden from the public for 40 years.

The Biblical Archaeology Society has been at the forefront of Dead Sea Scrolls research for decades and was one of the major players involved in getting the scrolls released to the public, making it the authoritative source for information about the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Visitors have online access to a collection of BAR articles about the Dead Sea Scrolls written by the top scholars in the field, including introductions to basic concepts and in-depth study of individual scrolls that will fascinate and enlighten beginners and seasoned scroll students alike.

The BAS Web site also offers an exclusive eBook for free download, titled The Dead Sea Scrolls—What They Really Say. Authored by BAR editor Hershel Shanks, this engaging, fully illustrated eBook guides readers through the complex history of the scrolls and examines what they can tell us about the development of early Christianity, the Hebrew Bible and the history of Judaism.

Additional books, documentaries, lecture DVDs and more are available in the special Dead Sea Scrolls department of the BAS store online to continue learning about the scrolls.

Seeing the Dead Sea Scrolls up close is exciting, but only the Biblical Archaeology Society can help you understand what made them the greatest archaeological discovery (and scandal) of the 20th century. Find it all at The Dead Sea Scrolls and Why They Matter.

CONTACT: Dorothy D. Resig
The Biblical Archaeology Society
Phone: 1.800-221-4644 ext. 242
Fax: 202-364-2636