In a partnership with Google, the Israel Museum yesterday launched its Dead Sea Scrolls digital project, which allows users to examine and explore these ancient biblical manuscripts at a level of detail never before possible.
The new website gives users access to searchable, fast-loading, high-resolution images of the scrolls, as well as short explanatory videos and background information on the texts and their history. Five complete scrolls from the Israel Museum have been digitised for the project at this stage. All five scrolls can be magnified so that users may examine texts in exacting detail.
Photographer Ardon Bar-Hama makes details, invisible to the naked eye, visible through ultra-high resolution digital photography. At up to 1200 mega pixels, these images are almost two hundred times higher in resolution than those produced by a standard camera. Each picture utilised UV-protected flash tubes with an exposure of 1/4000th of a second to minimise damage to the fragile manuscripts. In addition, the Great Isaiah Scroll may be searched by column, chapter, and verse and is accompanied by an English translation tool and the opportunity for users to submit translations of verses in their own languages.
"The Dead Sea Scrolls Project with the Israel Museum enriches and preserves an important part of world heritage by making it accessible to all on the internet," said Professor Yossi Matias, MD of Google's R&D Center in Israel. "Having been involved in similar projects in the past, including the Google Art Project, Yad Vashem Holocaust Collection and the Prado Museum in Madrid, we have seen how people around the world can enhance their knowledge and understanding of key historical events by accessing documents and collections online. We hope to make all existing knowledge in historical archives and collections available to all, including helping to put additional Dead Sea Scroll documents online."
The scrolls are accessible online at http://dss.collections.imj.org.il