Dead Sea Scrolls to be digitized in new German-funded Israeli project

Israeli researchers will virtually piece together thousands of Dead Sea Scrolls fragments in a new German-funded digitization project. Credit: Shai Halevi/Israel Antiquities Authority.

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to Israeli scientists and scholars are set to embark on a new collaborative research partnership to create a dynamic virtual work environment for the study of one of the most important discoveries of the 20th century—the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The conservation laboratory of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in Jerusalem, which tends to thousands of the 2,000-year-old scroll fragments, is heading the endeavor.

“Almost 70 years since the initial discovery [of the scrolls], ongoing technological developments now allow ever more innovative analyses and insights into these ancient manuscripts,” the IAA said on its website.

The new project is being funded to the tune of 1.6 million euros ($1.8 million) by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German-Israeli Project Cooperation, or DFG), the largest independent research funding organization in Germany.

Through the University of Haifa and Tel Aviv University in Israel as well as the University of Gottingen in Germany, in cooperation with the IAA, the project will develop tools that will enable the creation and publication of a new generation of digital editions of the Dead Sea Scrolls, rich in information and updatable.

The “dynamic research environment for studying the Dead Sea Scrolls will be achieved by linking the robust databases and resources of the project: the Qumran-Lexicon-project of the Gottingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library of the IAA,” the IAA said.

During the 1950s and early 1960s, thousands of Dead Sea Scrolls fragments were discovered, some in tiny pieces. Researchers have since been working on joining the fragments to one another. Now, as part of the project, advanced digital tools will be developed for suggesting new ways to join them. These tools, the IAA hopes, will help researchers identify connections between various fragments and manuscripts.

Posted on February 24, 2016 .