Breaking News: Dead Sea Scrolls to be Placed Online

Here is some exciting news from Dr Clive Field from a post on the Association of British Theological and Philosophical Libraries (ABTAPL) mailing list (reproduced here by permission):

Ever since their discovery in the late 1940s in eleven caves in the neighbourhood of Qumran, in the Judean Desert at the north-west end of the Dead Sea, the Dead Sea Scrolls have been incrementally transforming our knowledge of the Old Testament, Jewish life and thought between 20 BC and 70 AD, and the origins of Christianity. They are considered one of the greatest archaeological finds of the last century.

Access to the scrolls (at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem) has always been extremely limited, mostly to some 300 accredited scholars (apart from occasional exhibitions). So it is exciting news that, as part of its twentieth anniversary celebrations, the Israel Antiquities Authority yesterday announced that it is teaming up with Google’s Israeli Research and Design Centre in a $3,500,000 project to digitize all 30,000 fragments and make them freely available online.

Images will be created to the highest possible resolution, using infrared technology (which will allow researchers to see parts of the fragments that have turned black with age). The first images should be available next Spring, although the entire project will not be completed for some considerable time. The scrolls – in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek – will be accompanied by transcriptions and English translations, with translations into other languages to follow.

Here is today’s report in the Daily Mail.