Jerusalem: Israel has announced the launch of an online library with high definition pictures of the Dead Sea Scrolls to preserve the documents and expand the knowledge of the oldest known biblical text in the world.
Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) has teamed with Google Israel to scan and take high definition pictures of tens of thousands of fragments and store them on the Internet for public use.
"That`s our goal, to share this world heritage with everyone so that they can also contribute and understand this texts," Pnina Shor, head of the IAA unit dedicated to the preservation of the Dead Sea Scrolls, told Xinhua Tuesday.
"We also want to preserve them for the public, because the original manuscripts are quickly deteriorating. Let`s not forget they are 2,000 years old," Shor said.
The project to digitalize these scrolls, composed of 90 manuscripts that are put together from tens of thousands of small fragments, began five years ago, but the real work only started about two years ago.
"It took us three years to find the funding, but we started to concoct the idea five years ago. We began taking the HD pictures and scans two years ago, because we had to find the right way to do it without harming the scrolls," Shor said.
The pictures are so precise that they show even letters hidden to the naked eye, as well as ink spills. The team used a special camera developed by NASA that takes pictures of each fragment 28 times in 12 wavelenghts of light, Ha`aretz daily reported.
The team, composed of experts from different countries, brought a physicist who helped develop the technology, to ensure that the manuscripts would not suffer any harm.
"We also brought an expert from the John Hopkins University to take the pictures with a special LED light that would also ensure the least possible harm to the texts," Shor said.
But the goal of the project is also to unlock the secret of the manuscripts, that were put together like a puzzle, when they were found in Qumran, on the cliffs on the northern side along the Dead Sea.