20,000 Dead Sea Scroll fragments to be digitally scanned so they can be pieced together

A new revolutionary project: 20,000 Dead Sea Scroll fragments to be digitally scanned so they can be pieced together


Researchers will attempt the most important jigsaw in the history of mankind as they attempt to digitally scan 20,000 Dead Sea Scroll fragments so they can be pieced together.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are considered by scholars as the greatest discovery of the 20th century.

Thousands of miniature scroll fragments will be scanned with the latest technology. Scientists hope that with this new project, they will finally unravel the mystery and secrets hidden deep within the ancient scrolls.

The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in eleven caves situated along the northwest shore of the Dead Sea from 1947 to 1956. Today, researchers have identified the remains of approximately 870 scrolls which are divided into two basic categories. The Biblical and Non-Biblical.

According to scholars, it is very likely that the Dead Sea Scrolls were written by the Essenes sometime between 200 B.C. to 68 C.E./A.D.  Among the scrolls, around 225 Biblical texts have been found, which are considered some of the oldest surviving texts from the Hebrew bible.

Nearly 2000 years after these enigmatic scrolls were written, the thousands of tiny pieces will be scanned using high-resolution imaging.

Thousands of tiny fragments will now be digitally scanned


But not only will the new project attempt to scan the Dead Sea Scrolls, it will also assist in the successful translation of the scrolls as they are fitted together, helping scholars unravel the secrets within them. While researchers estimate some 20,000 fragments to be scanned, many more could undergo the process in the future.

So far, each fragment of the scrolls has been imaged on both sides with 12 different wavelengths of light, composed of seven in the visible light range and five in the near-infrared range.

The new project is being funded in the amount of 1.6 million euros by the Deutsch-Israelische-Projektförderung (DIP) through the Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities (Germany), רשות העתיקות – לגעת בעבר the Israel Antiquities Authority, אוניברסיטת חיפה – University Of Haifa and Tel Aviv University | אוניברסיטת תל-אביב

Shuka Dorman, director general at the Israel Antiquities Authority said: ‘For the first time we can read Hebrew like it was written 2,000 years ago.’

In an interview with Mail Online, Dr. Pnina Shor, curator and director of the Dead Sea Scrolls Project at the Israel Antiquities Authority said: ‘We have already imaged around 16,000 fragments using the very latest imaging technology but we still have several thousand more to do.’

‘While the longest scrolls we have are around 11 meters (36 feet) in length, the smallest are less than a square centimeter.’

‘Some are very small indeed, yet these very small fragments can be the most important as these are from texts that are still unknown.’

‘The scientists involved in this project are developing tools to piece together these fragments. It is the ultimate jigsaw puzzle.’

Dr. Shor added: ‘These scrolls were written more than 2,000 years ago and some of the words have become illegible under normal light.’

‘With infrared light, however, they come back to life and so this project is allowing us to see these ancient texts in new ways.’

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