Scientists and scholars in Jerusalem have begun a programme to take the first high-resolution, digital photographs of the Dead Sea Scrolls so they can be made available to the public on the internet.
The Israel Antiquities Authority this week ends a pilot project that prepares the way for a much larger operation to photograph the 15-20,000 fragments that make up the 900 scrolls which were discovered 60 years ago by shepherds in caves close to the Dead Sea.
The scrolls were first photographed in the 1950s, after their discovery, and have since then been kept in specially monitored conditions in a vault in Jerusalem. Only four specially-trained curators are allowed to handle them.
Now, in a project that could take five years and will cost millions of dollars, the fragments will be photographed first by a 39-megapixel colour digital camera, then by another digital camera in infra-red light and finally some will be photographed using a sophisticated multi-spectral imaging camera, which can distinguish the ink from the parchment and papyrus on which the scrolls were written. – garduk