Dead Sea Scrolls Now Available Online

Google and the Israel Museum have combined forces to bring the Dead Sea Scrolls online, more than 60 years since they were first discovered in the Judaean Desert in the West Bank.

The project brings to Internet users five scrolls—including the Book of Isaiah and the Temple Scroll—in high-resolution digital photographs through the Digital Dead Sea Scrolls Web site. The scrolls can be accessed and examined up close by allowing online visitors to magnify the parchments. The site is also designed in a way that the scrolls—which are written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek—can be read in English.

Photographer Ardon Bar-Hama took the photographs with a special camera reportedly made to the tune of around $250,000. The photographing process was done quickly so as not to expose the scrolls to the elements, which may cause the deterioration of the parchments’ quality.

The scrolls were discovered scattered in caves by Bedouin shepherds in the 1940s and were subsequently bought by Israeli researchers. The most complete of the scrolls are currently kept in the Israel Museum with hundreds of manuscripts more held by the Israel Antiquities Authority.