Thanks to a partnership between the Israel Museum in Jerusalem and Google, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest known biblical manuscripts, are now available online in high-resolution format.

The manuscripts, so fragile that they can’t be exposed to direct light, were discovered between 1947 and 1956 in caves along the shores of the Dean Sea, and hidden in70A.D by an isolated Jewish sect that settled in Qumran in the Judean Desert

The Dead Sea Scrolls highlights searchable fast-loading images of five complete Israeli scrolls of the Second Temple Period, the juncture of the birth of Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism. The pictures come with explanatory videos and background information on the texts and their history.

“Five of the eight scrolls housed at Israel Museum since 1965 have been digitalized, including the Great Isaiah Scroll, the Temple Scroll and the War Scroll. The Great Isaiah Scroll can be searched by column, chapter and verse, including the famous “and the wolf shall dwell with the lamb.” It is accompanied by an English translation tool and includes an option for users to submit translations of verses in their own languages.”

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.

Israel Museum Director, James Snyder said “For us, the Dead Sea Scrolls couldn’t be a more important iconic cultural artifact. Any opportunity for us to bring them to the widest possible public audience and offer the opportunity to really begin to understand what these amazing documents are all about is something that we embrace.”

To learn more about the actual venture, click on The Official Google Blog, where you’ll find a very detailed description of the project along with appropriate links and a video.

Click on The Digital Dead Sea Scrolls to visit the page at the Israel Museum.

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