from the October 2008 issue

Dead Sea Scrolls to be available on the Internet

Israeli officials have announced plans to make the Dead Sea Scrolls available on the Internet. Officials say scientists have begun using space technology to take pictures of the scrolls. They say the technology will help uncover some writings that have been hidden for years.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are about two thousand years old. They include pieces from about nine hundred documents. The scrolls contain the oldest known copies of the Hebrew holy book or Bible. They also include descriptions of life for Jews and early Christians during the time of Jesus.

The scrolls were found near the Dead Sea in nineteen forty-seven. They are written on two kinds of paper: parchment or papyrus. Some parts of the documents have become difficult to read over the years.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are in the possession of the Israel Antiquities Authority. Last month, officials announced that all of the scrolls would be digitally copied and placed on the Internet. The scientists say they are using non-damaging, high-tech imaging technology. Infrared cameras were used to make pictures of the Dead Sea Scrolls not long after they were found. Since then, infrared technology has greatly improved.

Scientists say the new method will show never before seen details. Officials say the imaging process will be done in way that protects the documents from the harmful effects of light and heat.

The imaging technology being used on the scrolls now has also been used in space. Scientist Greg Bearman is taking part in the project. Mister Bearman recently retired from the American space agency. He says the imaging equipment is used to study planets, but that it also works on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Officials say the goal of the project is make the scrolls more widely available to researchers and the public. The work is expected to take about five years.

Reprinted from the Israel High-Tech & Investment Report October 2008

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