Google’s Dead Sea Scrolls Online Library Adds 5,000 Images

Google’s Dead Sea Scrolls library got a lot bigger today.

Google started the digital library last year with five scrolls. The internet company, in a partnership with the Israel Antiques Authority, added another 5,000 images of the ancient texts to the library today.

According to the Associated Press, the digital library now contains the Book of Deuteronomy, a portion of the Book of Genesis, and the second listing of the ten commandments.

Shuka Dorfman, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said that only a few people are allowed to touch the actual Dead Sea Scrolls. Now, with the help of Google, anyone with an internet connection can flip through the ancient texts.

Dorfman said:

“Only five conservators worldwide are authorized to handle the Dead Sea Scrolls … Now, everyone can touch the scroll on screen around the globe.”

CNet reports that putting the Dead Sea Scrolls onto the internet was much more complicated than just photocopying a document. Google worked with NASA to develop technology that would allow them to capture not only the text of the documents, but also the texture. Users can now flip through the Dead Sea Scrolls, zoom in on interesting segments and examine the documents in incredible details.

The Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library writes:

“The discovery of the first Dead Sea Scrolls in a remote Judean Desert cave in 1947 is widely considered the greatest archaeological event of the twentieth century. Bedouin treasure hunters and archaeologists ultimately found the remains of hundreds of ancient scrolls. These fragile pieces of parchment and papyrus, including the oldest existing copies of the Hebrew Bible, were preserved for two thousand years by the hot, dry desert climate and the darkness of the caves where they were placed. The scrolls provide an unprecedented picture of the diverse religious beliefs of ancient Judaism, and of daily life during the turbulent Second Temple period when Jesus lived and preached.”

Here’s a video about the digital library.

The Dead Sea Scrolls online library is just part of Google’s plan to archive important cultural events. Google recently partnered with 17 museums and institutes around the world to create a Cultural Institute.

Yossi Matias, head of Google’s Research and Development Center in Israel, said:

“We’re working to bring important cultural and historical materials online and help preserve them for future generations. Our partnership with the Israel Antiquities Authority is another step toward enabling users to enjoy cultural material around the world.”