Google has partnered with Israel’s national museum to bring the Dead Sea Scrolls online as part of a project known as The Digital Dead Sea Scrolls. The $3.5 million project will eventually make almost all of the scrolls available to anyone with Internet access, but only five are online as of today.
The five scrolls that have been digitized include the Great Isaiah scroll, the Community Rule scroll, the commentary on Habbakuk, the Temple scroll and the War scroll. The scrolls were photographed using cutting-edge technology to produce the clearest renderings to date, resulting in 1,200MP images. The scrolls are fully searchable and include English translations.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are believed by many to be the most significant archeological discovery of the 20th century. The scrolls are believed to have been written or collected between 150 BC and 70 AD by a Jewish sect that fled Jerusalem 2,000 years ago and settled in Qumran. The more than 900 manuscripts are comprised of around 30,000 individual pieces that provide the basis of the Christian bible. The scrolls were discovered between 1947 and 1956 in Qumran caves on the shores of the Dead Sea.
The Israel Museum owns the majority of known scrolls, although some private collectors and other organizations retain the rights to smaller fragments of work. The Associated Press says that the project is set to be complete by 2016, at which time nearly all of the scrolls will be available for online viewing.