Dead Sea Scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls are being digitized through a partnership with Google, providing access to the information around the world. Image: Flickr / kjfnjy / CC-BY-SA

The Dead Sea Scrolls are often considered one of the most important collections of historical texts found to date. The Israel Museum has been lambasted in the past for not providing more extensive access to the fragile and broken documents. Now, through a partnership with Google, the Dead Sea Scrolls are being digitized and offered online.

Dead Sea Scrolls digitization project

The Dead Sea Scrolls digitization project has been ongoing for the past few years. A new camera had to be developed to photograph the documents clearly at 1,200 megapixels in the specialized environment that helps keep the documents from deteriorating more quickly. Each scroll and fragment is being carefully photographed, then compiled and placed online in a searchable database. The idea is to provide access to the scrolls to as large an audience as possible. All of the scrolls should be available online by 2016.

Google partners up with Israel Museum

Google has had very heavy involvement with the Dead Sea Scrolls digitization project. The database of scroll photos is stored on Google Storage, and the website is run on the Google Apps engine. The Google team has also made each digitized page a searchable, transcribed document that is indexed in search results. This partnership is similar to Google’s Art Project, Prado Museum and Holocaust photo collection.

Commentary allowed on scrolls

The digitized versions of the Dead Sea Scrolls allow for something very unusual – direct commentary. Viewers will be allowed to comment on the specific sections of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Over time, researchers are going to be keeping an eye on what amateur scientists find in the scrolls as potential further areas for research. This may be especially helpful in deciphering the tens of thousands of scroll document fragments and pieces as they become available. The Israel Museum does not own all of these pieces and fragments, but Google has offered to assist in digitizing those fragments if the owners wish to make them available.


PC World:
Official Google Blog:
Digital Dead Sea Scrolls:

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