The Dead Sea scrolls, which were written between the third and first centuries BCE had been hidden since 68 BCE in caves in the Judean desert on the shore of the Dead Sea. They are the oldest known bilblical texts in existence and were hidden to protect them from oncoming Roman army attacks. They were only rediscovered in 1947 and have been on exhibit since 1967 at the Isreal Museum in Jerusalem. What's written in the Dead Sea Scrolls are stories of life and religion in ancient Jerusalem, including the birth of Christianity.
Stitching the Dead Sea Scrolls
Google has teamed up with the The Israel Museum to make the Dead Sea Scrolls accessible to anyone with a computer or mobile phone and internet connection with the Dead Sea Scrolls Online project. Anyone in the world can view, read and interact with the ancient text. The photographs taken are upto 1200 megapixels and the camera exposed the scrolls to light for 1/4,000th of a second. The high resolution helps you see very minute details. For instance, when you zoom into the Temple Scroll, you can see detail on the animal skin that the scrolls are written on which is a tenth of a millimeter thick. You can even instantly translate the Hebrew text into English and leave comments on the text for others to see. You can even share your favourite verses on Twitter and Facebook.
Translating passages of the Isaiah Scroll
“When I arrived 15 years ago, I thought [the Dead Sea Scrolls] were like our Mona Lisa, and what the Mona Lisa is to the world is like what the scrolls are to world’s monotheistic religions,” said Israel Museum Director James Snyder. The partnership between Google and the Israel Museum began around six months ago. Five of the eight Dead Sea Scrolls were photographed in six days, after which they were stitched together to form a continuous scroll. The second process took several weeks. The five Dead Sea Scrolls that have been digitized so far include the Great Isaiah Scroll, the Community Rule Scroll, the Commentary on Habakkuk Scroll, the Temple Scroll, and the War Scroll.
Google's made the Isaiah Scroll accessible via web search. If you take a quote from the Isaiah Scroll, which is the most well known of them all, and enter it in Google's search service, you'll see a search result with a link to the Isaiah Scroll and more directly to the chapter and verse in which the quote is. They used Cloud Computing to store the photos of the scrolls, so users can browse the scrolls on their mobile phones.
The Great Isaiah Scroll
The project is one of the many that Google have undertaken to make art and culture available online. Previously, they had launched the Google Art Project which had brought museums to your fingertips. Other projects they have worked on include the Yad Vashem Holocaust photo collection, and the Prado Museum in Madrid, and they are looking for more projects to bring online. Watch the video below in which Google describes the Dead Sea Scrolls project. Google is also working on making the three remaining Scrolls available online.
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