Thousands of Dead Sea Scroll fragments will be available to the public online.
The Israeli Antiquities Authority announced Wednesday that scientists are working on a project to use high-powered digital cameras to digitize the scrolls and upload them to the Internet. The scrolls will be imaged in color and in infrared, which will allow the reading of scroll fragments that were blackened or faded and not visible to the naked eye.
The scrolls, which are more than 2,000 years old, were discovered in 1947 in a cave near the Dead Sea by Bedouin shepherds. They are the most ancient Hebrew record of the Old Testament discovered to date.
Conservators long have been concerned with the scrolls’ preservation and documentation, and most scholarly work has been based on infrared photographs from the 1950s.
The digitzation project is led by Greg Bearman, who recently retired from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Simon Tanner of Kings College London, who has worked with some of the oldest artifacts around the world and helped numerous digital projects succeed in delivering public and scholarly access to their treasures, is directing data collection.
Digitizing the scrolls will take about two years.