Advanced Technology Shines Light on More Dead Sea Scrolls

Bible and archaeology news

Thanks to advanced imaging technology, Dead Sea Scroll fragments containing writing too faint to read with the naked eye have now been deciphered. Oren Ableman, a Ph.D. student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a researcher in the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Dead Sea Scrolls Unit, examined these small manuscript pieces as part of the IAA’s massive project to digitally document each Dead Sea Scroll fragment. The recently deciphered fragments were presented at The Sixteenth International Orion Symposium “The Dead Sea Scrolls at Seventy: ‘Clear a Path in the Wilderness,’” held from April 29–May 2, 2018, in Israel.

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Dead Sea Scroll scholar Oren Ableman examining digitized fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Photo: Shai Halevi, Israel Antiquities Authority.

From the letters Ableman could read after digitizing these Dead Sea Scroll fragments, he reconstructed the texts on the fragments and identified passages from the Books of Deuteronomy, Leviticus, and Jubilees. An IAA press release cautions that “due to the fragmentary nature of the evidence, these reconstructions are not certain, but are highly likely.”

Interested in the history and meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls? In the free eBook Dead Sea Scrolls, learn what the Dead Sea Scrolls are and why are they important. Find out what they tell us about the Bible, Christianity and Judaism.

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Fragment of Deuteronomy (11Q3) as seen by the naked eye (left) and after infrared imaging at the Dead Sea Scrolls lab of the Israel Antiquity Authority (right). Photo: Shai Halevi, Israel Antiquities Authority.

The press release further described some of the fragments that could provide new information in Dead Sea Scroll research:

• A fragment belonging to the Temple Scroll, a text dealing with directions for conducting the services in the ideal Temple. In current scholarship, there is a debate [as to whether] there are two or three copies of the Temple Scroll found in Cave 11 near Qumran. The identification of the new fragment strengthens the theory that a manuscript given the number 11Q21 is indeed a third copy of this text from Cave 11.

• In addition, a fragment has been identified as belonging to the Great Psalms Scroll (11Q5). The new fragment preserves part of the beginning of Psalm 147:1. The end of the same verse is preserved in a large fragment that was purchased and originally published by Yigal Yadin. The new fragment indicates that the text of Psalm 147:1 in this manuscript was slightly shorter than the Hebrew text commonly used nowadays.

• Another fragment contains letters written in the ancient Hebrew script (paleo-Hebrew). This fragment could not be attributed to any one of the known manuscripts. This raises the possibility that it belonged to a still unknown manuscript.

Interested in the history and meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls? In the free eBook Dead Sea Scrolls, learn what the Dead Sea Scrolls are and why are they important. Find out what they tell us about the Bible, Christianity and Judaism.

More on the Dead Sea Scrolls in Bible History Daily:

Dead Sea Scrolls Online

Newly Deciphered Dead Sea Scroll Reveals 364-Day Calendar

Dead Sea Scrolls History: Looking Back on the Last 75 Years
 


 
Visit the Dead Sea Scrolls study page in Bible History Daily for more on this priceless collection of ancient manuscripts.
 


 

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