Google launches Dead Sea Scrolls online library

Sections of the Dead Sea Scrolls on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem in 2008. Photograprh by Baz Ratner, Reuters

By Lauren E. Bohn, Associated Press

JERUSALEM (AP) – More than six decades since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls – and thousands of years after they were written – Israel on Tuesday put 5,000 images of the ancient biblical artifacts online in a partnership with Google.

The digital library contains the Book of Deuteronomy, which includes the second listing of the Ten Commandments, and a portion of the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, dated to the first century B.C.

Israeli officials said this is part of an attempt by the custodians of the celebrated manuscripts – often criticized for allowing them to be monopolized by small circles of scholars – to make them broadly available.

“Only five conservators worldwide are authorized to handle the Dead Sea Scrolls,” said Shuka Dorfman, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority. “Now, everyone can touch the scroll on screen around the globe.”

Last year, Google partnered with the Israel Museum to put five scrolls online.

The scrolls, considered one of the most significant archaeological finds of the 20th century, are thought to have been written or collected by an ascetic Jewish sect that fled Jerusalem to the desert 2,000 years ago and settled at Qumran, near the shore of the Dead Sea. The hundreds of manuscripts found in caves near the site have shed light on the development of the Hebrew Bible and the origins of Christianity.

Read the rest of the article and see a video describing the project launch here

Access the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library here

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“In the beginning”…bringing the scrolls of Genesis and the Ten Commandments online