Google and the Israel Antiquities Authority announced on Tuesday the launch of the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library. The library features 5,000 high-definition images of the scrolls.
In an announcement made on Google's blog, Eyal Miller, head of new business development at Google Israel, and Yossi Matias, head of Israel research and development, said the Dead Sea Scrolls were “written more than 2,000 years ago on pieces of parchment and papyrus; they were preserved by the hot, dry desert climate and the darkness of the caves in which they were hidden. The scrolls are possibly the most important archaeological discovery of the 20th century.”
The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in a cave near the Dead Sea in the 1940s, the Associated Press notes.
Some of the Dead Sea Scrolls include the earliest known versions of the Book of Deuteronomy, as well as the first chapter of the Book of Genesis. Other scrolls contain texts that discuss life during the time of Jesus and his teachings as well as Judaic history, notes Google.
Each image of the Dead Sea Scrolls is presented in 1215 dpi resolution, letting viewers zoom in and look at them in amazing clarity.
Putting the Dead Sea Scrolls online lets scholars, historians and the curious examine these important manuscripts with ease. According to Shuka Dorfman, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “Only five conservators worldwide are authorized to handle the Dead Sea Scrolls. Now, everyone can touch the scroll on screen around the globe,” notes AP.
It took two years for Google to get the Dead Sea Scrolls online, according to AP. Each image of the Dead Sea Scrolls will feature a translation as well as a map indicating where the text was discovered.
A video describing the history of the Dead Sea Scrolls, their discovery and Google's effort to put the manuscripts online is below.