After 2000 years, the Dead Sea Scrolls have finally finished the journey to the internet. Google and the Israel Museum launched a project today that will place the delicate ancient document online.
Yossi Matias, managing director of Google’s R&D Center in Israel, said:
“Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it accessible and useful.”
NPR reports that the Dead Sea Scrolls were written by an ascetic Jewish sect that fled Jerusalem 2000 years ago. The scrolls shed light on the development of the Hebrew Bible and the origins of Christianity, and are considered by many to be the most significant archaeological discovery of the 20th century.
Museum director James Snyder, said:
“For us, the Dead Sea Scrolls couldn’t be a more important iconic cultural artifact. Any opportunity for us to bring them to the widest possible public audience and offer the opportunity to really begin to understand what these amazing documents are all about is something that we embrace.”
Bloomberg reports that five of the eight scrolls housed at Israel Museum have already been digitized. The Great Isaiah Scroll, the Temple Scroll and the War Scroll can now be found online. Users can zoom in on passages and have them directly translated to English. (You can check out the Dead Sea Scrolls here.)
Google has also started a project with the Israel Antiquities Authority. The IAA holds tens of thousands of fragments from 900 Dead Sea manuscripts. The project is expected to be completed in 2016.
Should all ancient documents be preserved digitally?