Hundreds of manuscripts made up of thousands of fragments - discovered from 1947 and until the early 1960's in the Judean Desert along the western shore of the Dead Sea - are now available to the public online
On the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Israel Antiquities Authority and Google are pleased to launch today the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library website/ The public is invited to experience, view, examine, and explore this collection of over 5000 images of Dead Sea Scrolls, in a quality never seen before.
The library was assembled over the course of two years, in collaboration with Google, using advanced technology first developed by NASA. It includes some 1000 new images of scroll fragments; 3500 scans of negatives from the 1950s; a database documenting about 900 manuscripts, two-thousand years old, comprising thousands of scroll fragments; and interactive content pages. It enables scholars and millions of users worldwide to reveal and decipher details hence invisible to the naked eye. The site displays infra-red and color images at a resolution of 1215 dpi, at a 1:1 scale, equivalent in quality to the original scrolls. Google has provided hosting services and use of Google Maps, image technology and YouTube. The project was made possible by an exceptionally generous grant from the Leon Levy Foundation, and further contribution by the Arcadia Fund, as well as the support of the Yad Hanadiv Foundation.
One of the earliest known texts is a copy of the Book of Deuteronomy, which includes the Ten Commandments; part of chapter 1 of the Book of Genesis, dated to the first century BCE, which describes the creation of the world; a number of copies of Psalms scrolls; tiny texts of tefillin from the Second Temple period; letters and documents hidden by refugees fleeing the Roman army during the Bar Kochba Revolt; and hundreds of additional 2000-year-old texts, shedding light on biblical studies, the history of Judaism and the origins of Christianity.
The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) is very proud to present the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library, a free online digitized virtual library of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Hundreds of manuscripts made up of thousands of fragments - discovered from 1947 and until the early 1960's in the Judean Desert along the western shore of the Dead Sea - are now available to the public online. The high resolution images are extremely detailed and can be accessed through various search options on the site.
With the generous lead support of the Leon Levy Foundation and additional generous support of the Arcadia Fund, the Israel Antiquities Authority and Google joined forces to develop the most advanced imaging and web technologies to bring to the web hundreds of Dead Sea Scrolls images as well as specially developed supporting resources in a user-friendly platform intended for the public, students and scholars alike.
The launch of the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library comes some 11 years after the completion of the publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls, initiated and sponsored by the IAA, and 65 years after the first scrolls were unearthed in the Caves of Qumran. This digital library is another example of the IAA's vision and mission, to make these ancient texts freely available and accessible to people around the world. The Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library represents a new milestone in the annals of the story of one of the greatest manuscript finds of all times.
About the Scrolls: In 1947, while searching for a stray goat in the Judean Desert, a Bedouin shepherd came upon a cave, in which he found a clay jar containing 2000-year-old scrolls. Ultimately, Bedouin treasure hunters and archaeologists found the remains of hundreds of additional ancient scrolls in nearby caves. These ancient pieces of parchment and papyrus, including the oldest copies of the Hebrew Bible, were preserved for two-thousand years by the hot, dry desert climate and the darkness of the caves where they were hidden. The scrolls unveil the diverse religious beliefs which prevailed in ancient Judaism during the turbulent Second Temple period, whence Jesus lived and preached. The scrolls are considered the most important archaeological discovery of the twentieth century.