Dead Sea Scrolls Now Online Thanks to Google

    September 27, 2011
    Josh Wolford

With the help of The Israel Museum and Google, the Dead Sea Scrolls are now accessible to everyone via the internet.

The Digital Dead Sea Scrolls site has just launched, and it gives you an interactive experience with the oldest known biblical manuscripts ever discovered. A little background on the Dead Sea Scrolls, from the official Google blog:

Written between the third and first centuries BCE, the Dead Sea Scrolls include the oldest known biblical manuscripts in existence. In 68 BCE, they were hidden in 11 caves in the Judean desert on the shores of the Dead Sea to protect them from the approaching Roman armies. They weren’t discovered again until 1947, when a Bedouin shepherd threw a rock in a cave and realized something was inside. Since 1965, the scrolls have been on exhibit at the Shrine of the Book at The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Among other topics, the scrolls offer critical insights into life and religion in ancient Jerusalem, including the birth of Christianity

The scrolls that are available for your perusal are the Great Isaiah Scroll, the War Scroll, the Temple Scroll, the Community Rule Scroll. A commentary on the Habakkuk Scroll is also available on the site.

The scrolls have been fully digitalized through high-res photos – up to 1,200 megapixels. While viewing the scrolls, you can zoom in and literally see the wear and age of the parchment. If you click on any section in the Great Isaiah Scroll (the most well known), for instance “Chapter 2: Verse 6,” you will be provided with a translation of the passage. Easy navigation allows you to jump to any part of the scroll and highlight any segment.

Links to the scrolls are also going to show up in Google searches of specific phrases from the text.

“We are privileged to house in the Israel Museum’s Shrine of the Book the best preserved and most complete Dead Sea Scrolls ever discovered,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum. “They are of paramount importance among the touchstones of monotheistic world heritage, and they represent unique highlights of our Museum’s encyclopedic holdings. Now, through our partnership with Google, we are able to bring these treasures to the broadest possible public.”