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Dead Sea Scrolls go online, thanks to Google, Israel Museum

September 26, 2011 |  9:52 am

Dead Sea Scrolls online

The Dead Sea Scrolls are a popular draw whenever fragments of the ancient manuscripts are displayed at museums around the world. Now you can get a close-up glimpse of the scrolls with a few keystrokes on your personal computer.

Google and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem have partnered to launch a new website that allows the public the ability to examine the Dead Sea Scrolls in fine detail. The site provides searchable, high-resolution images of the scrolls, plus explanatory videos and background on the foundational texts.

The initiative is part of the Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Project between the museum and Google. The museum has so far digitized five scrolls in its collection -- the Great Isaiah Scroll, the Community Rule Scroll, the Commentary on Habakkuk Scroll, the Temple Scroll and the War Scroll.

The Dead Sea Scrolls remain a controversial subject. Some Palestinian officials believe that the scrolls were illegally obtained by Israel when it annexed East Jerusalem in 1967. In 2007, the San Diego Natural History Museum hosted a selection of the scrolls in a six-month show that was a popular draw.

Discovered between 1947 and 1956, the scrolls are attributed to an isolated Jewish sect, referred to in the scrolls as "the Community," whose members settled in Qumran in the Judean desert. 

In the past, Google has launched similar online initiatives with other museums through the Google Art Project.

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-- David Ng

Photo: The War Scroll. Credit: Israel Museum

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