Dead Sea Scrolls now viewable online thanks to Google

Dead Sea ScrollGoogle has come under fire at times for scanning books and then making them available online, but Google’s latest project will most likely not cause any lawsuits. Google has just made the Dead Seas Scrolls available to view online for the first time ever.

Google worked with The Israel Museum in Jerusalem to bring the over 2,000 year old documents to life online. Unlike scanning books Google couldn’t really handle the ancient manuscripts due to their fragile state. The five documents instead posed for pictures, and the resulting images are up to 1,200 megapixels in size.

Thanks to the enormous size of the images it allows viewers to zoom in and see every detail on the page without having to handle the pages. The pages are printed animal skins that are only a tenth of a millimeter thick and are extremely fragile. Besides being the first time these documents are available to view online it is also the first time they are able to be viewed outside of Jerusalem.

Like us you may not remember the whole history of the Dead Sea Scrolls, so here is a quick refresher. They were written between the first and third centuries BCE, and were hidden in 11 caves in the Judean desert on the shores of the Dead Sea in 68 BCE. They were hidden to protect the documents from the invading Romans, and remained hidden until 1947 when they were discovered by a local shepherd.

Bringing the Dead Sea Scrolls online is just the first step in Google’s master plan. Google is working with The Israel Museum to bring several important cultural and historical collections online.

To view the scrolls just follow this link.

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