Head of the Department for the Treatment and Conservation of Artifacts at the IAA, Pnina Shor, told reporters, “The innovative technology will make it possible for the first time to scientifically measure changes in the state of the scrolls’ preservation. The fewer the changes that are discovered,” she said, “the better we will know that the scrolls are in an optimum state of preservation.”
As part of the pilot program, experts have set up three separate imaging stations in a sealed and specially painted gray room in order to image a selected number of scrolls and fragments. A high-resolution color imager will record the current state of the scrolls; a high-resolution infrared imager will increase the legibility of the texts and even help reveal new letters and words, while a spectral imager will monitor changes in the condition of the scrolls.
“I believe that, by using spectral photography, we will succeed, through non-invasive means, to determine the amount of water present in the parchment from which the scrolls are made. Data such as this,” Bearman told reporters, “has added value for conservation and preservation issues.”
According to the IAA, the scrolls and thousands of scroll fragments were only fully photographed once in the 1950s when they were discovered. Since then the condition of the scrolls has deteriorated due to removal from their protective environment and previous handling. The IAA initiated the digitization project in its effort to monitor the well-being of the scrolls and to expand access to scholars and the public worldwide, while preventing further damage from physical exposure.
Much of the scholarly research and publication about the scrolls has been done based on the original 1950s photographs. Not only has technology greatly increased since the first infrared photos of the scrolls were taken, but some of the photos themselves have also begun to deteriorate due to age, making the new imaging project more important than ever.
The pilot project is examining the means that were selected for imaging and storing the information and is also estimating the amount of time and resources necessary for implementing a project such as this. Shor said that to image, analyze, and publish all of the scrolls and fragments online will cost in the millions of dollars, money that still needs to be raised.
First discovered by a Bedouin boy in 1947 near Qumran, the Dead Sea Scrolls rank as one of the most important archaeological finds of all time, as they contain the most ancient Hebrew texts of the Bible, from around the first century BC. The biblical scrolls contain sections of all of the books of the Bible (with the exception of the Book of Esther) and even a complete copy of the Book of Isaiah. Other scrolls include apocryphal or pseudepigraphical compositions (those not included in the Scriptures with questionable authorship) and sectarian writings from the Qumran community.
By Will King, Correspondent,
BFP Israel Mosaic Radio
Photo Credit: Photo: Will King
Photo Credit: Photo: www.Todd Bolen.com
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