The Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest of biblical manuscripts, are now available online thanks to a joint effort by Google and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
By digitizing the ancient texts, viewers can now observer ultra-high resolution (1,200 mega-pixel) images on the Internet,
BBC reported that so far five of the scrolls have been captured, comprising the Temple Scroll, the Great Isaiah Scroll, the War Scroll, the Commentary on the Habakkuk Scroll, and the Community Rule Scroll.
Ardon Bar-Hama, a photographer of antiquities, reportedly used ultraviolet-protected flash tubes to light the scrolls for 1/4000th of a second in order to protect them from damage.
Originally discovered between 1947 and 1956 in eleven caves along the Dead Sea shore, the manuscripts include both religious and secular texts documenting life in the first and second centuries after Christ.
“The [digitizing] project began as a conservation necessity,” the head of the Israel Museum’s conservation department told The New York Times.
“We wanted to monitor the deterioration of the scrolls and realized we needed to take precise photographs to watch the process. That’s when we decided to do a comprehensive set of photos, both in color and infrared, to monitor selectively what is happening. We realized then that we could make the entire set of pictures available online to everyone, meaning that anyone will be able to see the scrolls in the kind of detail that no one has until now.”
See the digital Scrolls here.