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Israel and Google to Unfurl Dead Sea Scrolls for Web Viewing

working on dead sea scroll
The 21st century has ushered the field of archaeology into a revolutionary renaissance period, as technological advances like lasers, infrared mapping and multi-spectral imaging now afford archaeologists with extraordinary methods of discovery and restoration. Science also allows history buffs and amateur bone-diggers -- in similarly unprecedented fashion -- to experience, enjoy and share in that archaeological reawakening.

Two years ago, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem revealed its desire to publicly exhibit all 900 Dead Sea scrolls and their invaluable, deteriorating 2,000-year-old biblical texts. Now, the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) promises that the first wave of those Qumran cave texts will go online in the next few months, and that all 30,000 scroll fragments will follow within the next five years, according to Yahoo News.

The scrolls' pieces remain in disrepair, so the Museum curators rely on NASA's high-resolution imaging technology -- which sometimes reveals concealed and faded characters -- to capture incredibly detailed representations. Those representations will eventually be uploaded to a Google database and made available to the public for no charge. For now, the Museum only exhibits the fragments in stages because of their deteriorated condition, but Pnina Shor of the IAA says that in the near future, "anyone in his office or [on] his couch will be able to see" the scrolls. Just as those ancient cave dwellers intended, right?

Tags: archaeology, dead sea scrolls, DeadSeaScrolls, google, history, Israel, israel museum, IsraelMuseum, Jerusalem, qumran, science, top