With the Dead Sea Scrolls about to appear online for the whole world to see, what would the religious recluses behind them make of this news?
The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) has announced in a statement to journalists that the entire collection — comprised of 30,000 fragments from 900 manuscripts — will be digitized and freely available online, with the help Google’s research and development center in Haifa. This is the first time that the collection will be photographed in its entirety since the 1950s. Each image will be equal in quality to the actual scrolls themselves.
In addition to viewing the scrolls, users will also be able to perform meaningful searches across a range of data in numerous languages and formats. The IAA predicts that it will result in “unprecedented scholarly and popular access to the Scrolls and related research and scholarship and should lead to new insights into the world of the Scrolls.”
According to the IAA, it is employing “technological means to preserve this unrivalled cultural heritage treasure, which belongs to all of us, so that the public, with a click of the mouse, will be able to access history in its fullest glamour,” said its General Director Shuka Dorfman.