Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library

February 18, 2011

We are delighted to tell you that the Israel Antiquities Authority is embarking upon an ambitious project - the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library - to document the entire collection of the Dead Sea Scrolls and make them available on the internet. A lead gift from the Leon Levy Foundation, with additional funding from the Arcadia Foundation and the support of Yad Hanadiv, will enable the IAA to use the most advanced and innovative technologies available to image the entire collection of 900 manuscripts comprising nearly 30,000 Dead Sea Scrolls fragments in hi-resolution and multi spectra and make the digitized images freely available and accessible to anyone anywhere in the world on the internet. This is the first time that the collection of Scrolls will be photographed in its entirety since the 1950's.

The IAA, the pre-eminent organization in the fields of Biblical and Israeli archaeology, custodian of nearly 2 million objects and the entire collection of Dead Sea Scrolls, announced today that it is collaborating with Google Israel in this milestone project to upload not only all of the digitized Scrolls images but also additional data online that will allow users to perform meaningful searches across a broad range of data in a number of languages and formats. These steps will result in unprecedented scholarly and popular access to the Scrolls and related research and scholarship and should lead to new insights into the world of the Scrolls.

The innovative imaging technology to be used in the project has been developed by MegaVision, a U.S. based company, and will be installed in the IAA's laboratories in early 2011. The MegaVision system will enable the digital imaging of every Scroll fragment in various wavelengths in the highest resolution possible and allow long term monitoring for preservation purposes in a non-invasive and precise manner. The images will be equal in quality to the actual physical viewing of the Scrolls, thus eliminating the need for re-exposure of the Scrolls and allowing their preservation for future generations. The technology will also help rediscover writing and letters that have "vanished" over the years; with the help of infra-red light and wavelengths beyond, these writings will be brought "back to life", facilitating new possibilities in Dead Sea Scrolls research. Uploading the images to the internet will be achieved with the assistance of Google Israel and will be accompanied by meta-data including transcriptions, translations and bibliography.

The Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library is another example of our efforts to share with audiences around the world the great archaeological treasures of the Land of Israel and establish the IAA as the world leader in the research, conservation and exhibition of the Dead Sea Scrolls. We are grateful to Shelby White and the Leon Levy Foundation and to the Arcadia Foundation and Yad Hanadiv for their continued, exemplary support of the projects of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

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