Dead Sea Scrolls Go Online in Israel Museum Project With Google

The Dead Sea Scrolls, so ancient and fragile that direct light cannot shine on them, are now available to search and read online in a project launched today by the Israel Museum and Google Inc. (GOOG)

”œGoogle’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it accessible and useful,” said Yossi Matias, managing director of Google’s R&D Center in Israel.

The people who wrote the scrolls hid them in caves along the shore of the Dead Sea, probably about the time the Romans destroyed the temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D., and are generally attributed to an isolated Jewish sect that settled in Qumran in the Judean Desert. The manuscripts, for the most part in ancient Hebrew, were discovered between 1947 and 1956.

Sections of the scrolls are on display at Israel Museum’s Shrine of the book and rotated every three to four months so as to minimize exposure. Only a facsimile of the Great Isaiah Scroll is on display. The Google tool on the Israel Museum website makes entire scrolls accessible and allows browsers to zoom into the text as well as read its translation in English.

”œThis gives you a way to understand the beginning of biblical history,” said museum director James Snyder. ”œNothing could be more important.”

The scrolls are available online here.

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