Digitized Dead Sea Scrolls to be available online
October 19th, 2010
02:03 PM ET

Digitized Dead Sea Scrolls to be available online

Editor's Note: CNN's Kevin Flower brings us this story from Jerusalem.

In an ambitious application of 21st century technology to a first century wonder, the Israel Antiquities Authority and internet search giant Google announced a plan Tuesday to digitize the Dead Sea Scrolls and make the entire collection available to the public online.

The authority's general director, Shuka Dorfman, called the project a milestone that will enhance the field of biblical studies and people's understanding of Judaism and early Christianity.

"We have succeeded in recruiting the best minds and technological means to preserve this unrivaled cultural heritage treasure, which belongs to all of us, so that the public with a click of the mouse will be able to access history in its fullest glamour"

Made up of 30,000 fragments from 900 manuscripts, the Dead Sea Scrolls are considered by many historians to be one of the most important archaeological finds ever made.

The ancient manuscripts, made of leather, papyrus and copper, were first discovered in 1947 by a nomadic shepherd in a cave near the Dead Sea. In the years that followed, more scroll fragments were located.

Dating back over 2,000 years, the scrolls reveal details about the development of Judaism during the Hellenistic period and shed light on the relationship between early Christian and Jewish religious traditions.

The project will employ the latest in spectral and infrared imaging technology to scan the thousands of scroll fragments into one large database.

"This is the ultimate image of the scroll you can get," explained project manager Pnina Shor as she showed reporters an example of the imaging. "It presents an authentic copy of the scroll that, once online, there is no need to expose the scrolls anymore"

Conservation of the ancient manuscripts is a major concern for the Israel Antiquities Authority, which recently began limiting photography of them. Flawed preservation and display practices in decades past had, in some cases, "catastrophic" consequences, Shor said, and the authority decided it needed to create a new active image record that would spare the manuscripts from further degradation.

The entire collection of Dead Sea Scrolls was photographed in 1950s, but access to the photos and the documents themselves has been limited. Only four conservationists are allowed to handle the scroll fragments and scholars are limited in how much time they can spend studying them in person.

Google, with its high-powered search and translation services, will help catalog the mass of material, but the internet heavyweight says the project is not for profit and not exclusive.

"I can envision scholars or other companies contributing their own technologies so as to get some additional value over the data " said Yossi Matias, Google's head of research and development center in Israel.

The Israel Antiquities Authority has raised $3.5 million to fund the project, and project managers say the first images could be online within months.

Matias said it is too early to detail how the scrolls will be displayed online, but he assured that "the idea is an open platform and an open approach"

See more images of the scrolls here.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Israel • Israel • Judaism • Middle East

soundoff (253 Responses)
  1. www.chatladyweb.com

    QPArzAYd, http://www.chatladyweb.com, chat lady, http://www.chatladyweb.com/

    April 13, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  2. Девочка

    Я никак не смогла вставить рисунок в коментарий. Вставляю ссылку на рисунок а он не показывает его как рисунок. Что мне делатЬ?
    Фотки беру отсюда – images.yandex.ru/yandsearch?text=religion.blogs.cnn.com

    February 17, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
  3. Аварии

    Благодарность за материалы!
    Respect religion.blogs.cnn.com

    December 5, 2010 at 11:57 am |
  4. Krishna

    Doesn't the DSS have Isaiah – and doesn't Isaiah predict Jesus' coming and crucifixion? Doesn't all this prove that Jesus is true?

    November 17, 2010 at 3:44 am |
  5. Muneef

    For those Religious and non Religious Christians to read very interesting stories that might save their souls and planet from going down the drain.


    October 24, 2010 at 2:06 pm |
  6. Muneef

    Judas stars as 'anti-hero' in gospel By Julia Duin 
     National Geographic 
    Near the end of the Judas gospel, Jesus tells Judas he will "exceed" the rest of the disciples "for you will sacrifice the man that clothes me."

    October 24, 2010 at 1:59 pm |
  7. Michelle Jones

    Sorry, meant yhwh.

    October 23, 2010 at 1:28 pm |
  8. Michelle Jones

    Can't wait to see the actual tetragramaton (whwh in hebrew) photographed as it was written, proving that God's name was widely used back then – now sadly it has been removed from most bibles.

    October 23, 2010 at 1:27 pm |
  9. Muneef

    Ø    Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his 
         level and beat you with experience.
    Ø    War does not determine who is right – only who is left.
    Ø    The early bird might get the worm, but the second 
         mouse gets the cheese.
    Ø    Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the 
         fall of a successful man is usually another woman.
    Ø    Some cause happiness wherever they go. Others whenever they go.

    October 22, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
  10. FrankLW

    This is one more in a long line of many other astounding accomplishments in Israel. When peace comes to the area and the Israelis are finally not compelled to devote so much of their resources to their defense against radical Islam, the sky is limit on what they will contribute – and great prosperity will come to the Arabs of the area as well.

    October 22, 2010 at 6:18 am |
    • Muneef


      What make you so sure that it wouldn't be slavery that would come to all the Arabs in the area or the whole area?
      They are filled with Racisem with their own Jews where the Arab and black flasha Jews they consider them as lowest and treated as slaves to those of Eastern Europe who consider them salves as the rightful owner of the country and politics related to it. So you see if they treat the rightful owner Arabs Jews or non Jews this way how do you expect they would treat other Arabs as Muslims or christions or Jews any different? Day Dreamer you are.

      October 22, 2010 at 1:02 pm |
    • FrankLW

      Muneef, Israel’s overwhelming concern is simply living in peace on the tiny sliver of land that it already controls (even less after potential negotiations for which it is always prepared).

      Whenever true peace is in the offing, Israel makes huge concessions, like ceding the entire Sinai Peninsula or uprooting 9,000 of its own citizens from their homes and businesses of 30 years in Gaza.

      In stark contrast Radical Muslims, like the Hamas, reject an Israel (a very small secular democracy with 25% non – Jewish citizens) in any shape or form since fundamentalist Islam cannot tolerate non –Muslim hegemony in Israel or anywhere on the globe for that matter.

      As to their own Falasha Jews, Israel when to great expense to save them from untold strife in Ethiopia and bring them to Israel. While there have been isolated incidents of discrimination or racism, as in any society, the Ethiopian Jews are an integral part of contemporary Israel. Furthermore, most of the Jews of Israel actually are Arab Jews, that is Sephardic Jews who returned to the land of Israel after living many centuries in Arab and Middle Eastern lands, and they too are a fully integral part of the modern secular democratic sate of Israel. So it is your post that is divorced from reality.

      October 23, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
    • Muneef


      Wish we were here talking about Jews after all I am a Yemeni and if you know about Israel you would know how many Yemeni Jews were conned to believe on the promised land selling every thing they owned and rushed there for nothing really as not heard any of them reached as those of the eastern Europe in the Leadership?
      Any way what is feared by all area is not the Jewish settlements but the Zionists that are hiding behind them using them as a shield and an exuse to invade and destruct.. It is an Arab land why shouldn't it be lead by Arab Jews maybe then only you will see the difference of treatment they will get from their fellow Arabs in the area?

      October 23, 2010 at 9:10 pm |
  11. thEasaurus

    it dosent say jesus in the bible or anything like that...
    THEY CALL HIM ISIAH! and also, he was a jew, and he is only mentioned once or twice in jewish scriptures like the nuvi,but not the torah.

    October 21, 2010 at 8:28 pm |
    • Muneef

      The Torah came upon Moses long before Jesus came therefore expect not being mentioned but can find plenty of that in the Quran since it came after Jesus by many years.

      October 21, 2010 at 9:25 pm |
  12. Mel


    From a biblical perspective, Moses was told by God to speak to the stone of which he struck it instead. The people were so angry that they were about to stone Moses himself. Because Moses struck the stone disobeying the command of God, he himself was forbidden from entering the promised land and later died outside of it.

    As for the meaning and need of Prophecy, what does the Quran say about that and what Prophecy has it ever delivered?

    October 21, 2010 at 7:03 pm |
    • Muneef

      There is no story like that about Moses dis-obeying God and nothing about God telling Moses to speak with the stone but it was a direct order from God to Moses as to struck the stone! Find the reference in the Quran
      Sura 01:60
      Sura 07:160
      And God said to have gaven ins-piration or rev-elation to Moses to struck the Sea with his cane opening it in to 12 paths for each tribe to pass through.
      Sura 26:63
      Moses was highly dis-obeyed by his people and through the whole exodus he lost many of them at the first occasion when he was supposed to go for 40 days alone but extended to 50 days to receive the comm-andments from God and by the time he returned back his people he found out that they have made a Calf from the gold they were carrying and were worshiping it and that was when many of the comm-andments carved on stone sheets broken to pieces and here when God gave order that for showing repentance they are to kill those worshiped the calf and here were losses made
      Sura 01: 51 to 59
      Sura 07:148 to 155
      Sura 20: 83 to 98.

      And your question why Moses was not able to enter the promised land check this saying that his people failed him
      Sura 05: 20 to 26

      For reading those sura's in http://www.quranexplorer.com

      As to your last I do not think I understand what exactly your question as to Prohecy but it does give same with prophets stories and signs of resu-rrection time beside many miracles named as the miracles of the Quran.

      October 21, 2010 at 9:19 pm |
    • Muneef

      Might find things of interest here as well: http://www.islamicsearchcenter.com/

      October 21, 2010 at 9:21 pm |
    • FrankLW

      The Quran is a 7th century creation, written very long after the Bible (the "Old Testament"), so it has very very little to contribute in understanding the Bible, and the Quran's rewriting of the Bible was motivated by a variety of political interests.

      October 23, 2010 at 6:03 pm |
    • Muneef


      So you think the Quran is just rewriting of the bible? Well you are wrong here because it isn't otherwise it would have made of Jesus God as the bible did but Quran is not saying that beside that our prophet was illiterate so how did he rewrite which he cannot read or summarize .

      October 24, 2010 at 5:17 am |
  13. Iqbal khan


    October 20, 2010 at 10:03 pm |
    • Raison

      @Iqbal khan

      You can't speak using words? I will not watch your video, will not follow your links, and can only wonder that you think you are accomplishing anything useful at all.....

      October 20, 2010 at 10:23 pm |
    • Mel

      Interestingly, the Torah and the Qur'an give a varied account of the experience of Moses in the desert.
      Now, if BOTH texts are supposedly without flaw, then how do you explain that Moses was told to speak to the stone of which he struck and water came forth in the Torah. In the Qur'an, it says he was order to strike the stone. Only one of the texts is correct, yet both validate that Moses in fact existed and that an experience regarding water coming forth from a stone happened.

      Secondly, the Qur,an offers no prophecy, validated or otherwise. The Bible stands unique to all other scriptures in this respect.

      October 21, 2010 at 12:58 am |
    • Muneef

      Think Iqbal Khan has given few videos and links that has proven useful and answering to comments that been posted, so guess he has proven being useful although he has not used his own words.

      October 21, 2010 at 7:24 am |
    • Muneef


      In Quran it was told that when Moses needed water for his followers of the 12 tribe decendents of the sons of Jacob.
      Moses was told or instructed or guided by God to strick the stone with his cane and when he did a 12 water fountains came out of the stone in which each tribe had it's own water source from that stone.
      So you see if your Holy Scripture did not mention that there were 12 fountains and 12 tribes then I do not know how you found it to be unique than any other scripture? Therefore kindly allow me to assist you with what exactly you looking for as did not understand what you meant by "Quran offers no prophecy,validated or otherwise".
      Kindly explain meaning and need!

      October 21, 2010 at 2:33 pm |
    • Raison

      I would argue the point about usefulness, as giving useless information and avoiding comprehensible communication is not usually considered to be useful.... ;P

      October 21, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
    • Muneef


      Well guess he has his own reasons but at least he is participating with some things what ever thought of as bad or good.

      October 21, 2010 at 9:30 pm |
  14. Iqbal khan

    Check what Islam is saying about......


    October 20, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
  15. Petel2

    Religion and supreme beliefs are the very destruction to society. They breed the extremists and the rest create the excuses and deflections. When a society is able to act out responsibly to issues as the Clergy abuse and the RCC, to hold those leaders from the pope down criminally responsible for such horrendous crimes of neglect to children without deflections as "others did it too" – I might consider differently. The neglect of children and the life long suffering, as shown in the suicides and mental illness caused, are enough to demonstrate religions disgust. None demanded these children receive justice, shame.

    October 20, 2010 at 10:51 am |
  16. Yankytanky

    I would like to make a few more comments. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 says "Prove all things: hold fast to what is good". You have to prove that God exists before you can go any further. You then have to prove that the Bible is the inspired word of God.. Do not believe the stuff that mainstream "christianity" is trying to force down people's throat. Sunday, Christmas, Easter are pagan days and should not be in a christian's life. Follow the Holy Days that God outlined for mankind, not just the Jews. If you understand the Holy Days and their meaning, you will see God has a plan for humans that churches do not understand. God has given mankind 6,000 years to figure out that they cannot do it by themselves. Don't listen to what mainstream christianity has to say. Prove all things; hold fast to what is good.

    October 20, 2010 at 10:46 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.