A new website developed by the Israel Museum and Google will enable anyone with an internet connection to see five of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Pages for each of the five scrolls – the Great Isaiah Scroll, the Community Rule Scroll, the Commentary on the Habakkuk Scroll, the Temple Scroll, and the War Scroll – also contain brief videos and explanatory notes. A magnifying feature enables visitors to examine the scrolls in minute detail.
Dating from the third century BC to the first century AD, the Dead Sea Scrolls were first discovered in the winter of 1946–47, by the Bedouin Muhammed edh-Dhib and his cousin near the ruins of Khirbet Qumran near the Dead Sea. Scholars and archaologists are still studying this sensation discovery. The texts are of great religious and historical significance, as they include the oldest known surviving copies of Biblical and extra-biblical documents and preserve evidence of great diversity in late Second Temple Judaism. They are written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, mostly on parchment, but with some written on papyrus. These manuscripts generally date between 150 BC and 70 AD.
“We are privileged to house in the Israel Museum’s Shrine of the Book the best preserved and most complete Dead Sea Scrolls ever discovered,” said James S Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum. “They are of paramount importance among the touchstones of monotheistic world heritage, and they represent unique highlights of our Museum’s encyclopedic holdings. Now, through our partnership with Google, we are able to bring these treasures to the broadest possible public.”
“The Dead Sea Scrolls Project with the Israel Museum enriches and preserves an important part of world heritage by making it accessible to all on the internet,” said Professor Yossi Matias, Managing Director of Google’s R&D Center in Israel. “Having been involved in similar projects in the past, including the Google Art Project, Yad Vashem Holocaust Collection, and the Prado Museum in Madrid, we have seen how people around the world can enhance their knowledge and understanding of key historical events by accessing documents and collections online. We hope one day to make all existing knowledge in historical archives and collections available to all, including putting additional Dead Sea Scroll documents online.”