MembersNew Technology Helps Us Look Far Into the Past

The Dead Sea Scrolls have been admired since 1965 at the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

By Dov Eilon |
Shay Halevi
Photo: (Dov Eilon)

But, in addition to the larger fragments, thousands of sometimes tiny particles of writings were found. Many are in poor condition and were stored unsorted.

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) has now launched a digitization project in which every little fragment is scanned. The technology was developed by NASA, and makes visible what the human eye under normal circumstances can not perceive. Oren Ableman of the IAA discovered traces of inscriptions on many small fragments, and was even able to assign some to the various scrolls on display.

Israel Today was given the opportunity to visit the IAA lab and observe this process up-close. Ableman explained how previously-unpublished writings have been brought to light in the course of digitization. He presented a small nondescript piece of a scroll found in Cave 11 at Qumran. Then, by means of a new infrared photo technology, writing suddenly became visible on the fragment. IAA technician Shay Halevi pointed out four letters reading “praise” or “sing.”...

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