Thursday, January 3, 2013

Dead Sea Scrolls Go Digitial

For those who have never had the chance to view the Dead Sea Scrolls can now do so with just the click of a mouse.

Partnering with Google, the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library is now online. This is an important move since until now only a small handful of people were allowed to examine the actual scrolls. The reason for the restriction is not due to a conspiracy theory, as some have suggested, but because the scrolls are so fragile they must be handled by people who have been trained to do so and only in the right conditions. That being the case, most of us have been restricted to looking at photographs and transcriptions that have been published in very expensive books by the scholars studying the scroll. This means that while the scrolls were accessible, the only way one could do so was owning a very expensive set of books.

Now, the scrolls can be see by all. Click on the link and you can zoom in on the photograph. Here is the Community Rule and the War Scroll, two of the most famous scrolls.

I suspect this will open up scrolls scholarship in a new way. With more people able to view the scrolls, it means the potential for learning is greater. It also means that some theories about the scrolls and their interpretation may also be challenged. In any case, it means that information is becoming the property of all people. Hats off to Google and the Israeli Antiquity Authority! 

If you want to learn more about the project you can here an interview on NPR. The below video is from the CNN Blog.

1 comment:

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