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Google, Israel to put Dead Sea Scrolls online
The new partnership is part of a drive by Google to have historical artifacts cataloged online, along with any other information.
“There are artifacts in boxes, in museum basements. We ask ourselves how much [of] this stuff is available on the Internet. The answer is not a lot, and not enough,” said Yossi Matias, an official from Google-Israel.
Google has worked to upload old books from European universities and pictures of archaeological finds from Iraq’s national university. This project is different, Mr. Matias said, because access to the scrolls may spur new interpretations of the highly debated text and because the scrolls have a more universal appeal.
For the past 18 years, segments of the scrolls have been displayed publicly in museums around the world. At a recent exhibit in St. Paul, Minn., 15 fragments were shown.
Ms. Shor said a typical three-month exhibit in the U.S. draws 250,000 people, illustrating the popular pull of the scrolls.
“From the minute all of this will go online, there will be no need to expose the scroll anymore,” Ms. Shor said. “Anyone in his office or on his couch will be able to click and see any scroll fragment or manuscript that they like.”
Much mystery continues to surround the scrolls. No one knows who copied these ancient texts or how they got where they were found. The scrolls include parts of the Hebrew Bible as well as treatises on communal living and apocalyptic war.
Over the years, the texts have sparked heated debates among researchers over their origins.
Some believe the Essenes, a monastic sect seen by some as a link to early Christianity, hid the scrolls during the Jewish revolt of the first century A.D. Others believe they were written in Jerusalem and stashed in caves at Qumran by Jewish refugees fleeing the Roman conquest of the city, also in the first century.
By Tom Harris and Madhav Khandekar
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