In 2012, in collaboration with Google Research and Development Center in Israel, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) had launched the ‘Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library’, a website that allows viewing and searching the Dead Sea Scrolls online. The project allows users to access and explore these ancient manuscripts. Advanced and innovative techniques were used for the scanning and digitization of about 930 manuscripts, in multiple spectra and high resolution. These scrolls contain Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek writing and include a number of the earliest known Biblical texts including the oldest surviving copy of the Ten Commandments.
It was in 1947 that the first of the scrolls were discovered in a remote cave at Qumran in the West Bank near the Dead Sea. The oldest of these documents dates back to the 3rd century B.C while the latest belongs to 70 A.D. The scrolls are kept in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem in the Shrine of the Book, a dedicated facility in the museum.
In February 2014, the IAA introduced a new update to the library and now the website includes a collection of 10,000 new multispectral images, content translated into German and Russian in addition to the current languages, extra manuscript descriptions, faster search and easy access to social media sites such as Facebook.
Those who analyze these data can attain critical insight into the Jewish society in the Land of Israel during the Second Temple Period, the time of the birth of Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism.
As part of digitization of the scrolls, each minute fragment is imaged with multi-spectral imaging. Every scroll fragment is imaged at 56 different exposures, 28 per side, in 12 different wavelengths ranging as far as near infrared.
The project runs under the generous lead support of the Leon Levy Foundation and Arcadia Fund. Anyhow, the project represents “a new milestone in the annals of the story of one of the greatest manuscript finds” and digital preservation of all times.