In a matter of months, it will be possible to peruse the Dead Sea Scrolls from the comfort of your computer chair. Because now that Google’s digitized one priceless national treasure, this is the next logical step.
The keepers of the scrolls, the Israel Antiquities Authority, announced Tuesday that as part of their 20th anniversary, they are launching this project to digitize all of the 30,000 fragments that make up the earliest known copy of the Hebrew Bible. Taking a page out of the PopSci handbook, the IAA is entrusting Google with the task of preserving their sacred, prophetic treasures. This is the first time since the 1950s that the entire collection will be photographed.
U.S. company MegaVision developed the high-resolution imaging technology that is to be used on the project. According to the IAA, the resulting images will be just as good as looking at the scrolls themselves. This will allow not only widespread access to the collection, but also minimize the need to expose the delicate 2,000-year-old parchment and papyrus to the harsh effects of light and air.
Once the project is complete, researching the scrolls will be easier than ever. Google Israel and the IAA plan to include transcriptions, translations and a bibliography with the images so you won’t have to be an expert, or even able to read Aramaic in order to decipher the scrolls.