Google brings scrolls of Genesis and the Ten Commandments online

Google brings scrolls of Genesis and the Ten Commandments online


Remember the Dead Sea Scrolls that Google and Israel Museum made accessible to anyone with a computer or mobile phone and Internet connection? In a step ahead in a similar direction, Google and the Israel Antiquities Authority have now launched the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library.  An official blog post by Eyal Miller, New Business Development, and Yossi Matias, Head of Israel Research and Development Center now claims that they have an online collection of roughly 5,000 images of scroll fragments at a never seen before quality for user access.

Part of the Book of Genesis. Photo by Shai Halevi, courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority

The text in the Scrolls include one of the oldest known copies of the Book of Deuteronomy, which includes the Ten Commandments, part of Chapter 1 of the Book of Genesis – it describes the creation of the world. The findings include hundreds of 2,000-year-old texts that bring to the fore the history of Judaism and the time when Jesus lived and preached. Needless to add, using the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library, several users and scholars will be able to discover and decipher details that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye – at 1215dpi resolution. Users can see infrared and colour images of the same quality as the Scrolls themselves on the site. The database includes information for roughly 900 manuscripts and interactive content pages.

The post adds, “We’re thrilled to have been able to help this project through hosting on Google Storage and App Engine, and use of Maps, YouTube and Google image technology.” Google shares that their partnership with the Israel Antiquities Authority is part of their continuous work to bring important cultural and historical materials online, to make them accessible and help preserve them for future generations.

The Ten Commandments. Photo by Shai Halevi, courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority

The Ten Commandments. Photo by Shai Halevi, courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority

As aforementioned, Google had previously made the Dead Sea Scrolls accessible to users through the Dead Sea Scrolls Online project. The Dead Sea Scrolls – written between the third and first centuries BCE – had been hidden since 68 BCE in caves in the Judean desert on the shore of the Dead Sea. They are the oldest known bilblical texts in existence and were hidden to protect them from oncoming Roman army attacks. They were only rediscovered in 1947 and have been on exhibit since 1967 at the Isreal Museum in Jerusalem. What’s written in the Dead Sea Scrolls are stories of life and religion in ancient Jerusalem, including the birth of Christianity.

Anyone in the world can view, read and interact with the ancient text. The photographs taken are up to 1200 megapixels and the camera exposed the scrolls to light for 1/4,000th of a second. The high resolution helps you see very minute details. For instance, when you zoom into the Temple Scroll, you can see detail on the animal skin that the scrolls are written on, which is a tenth of a millimeter thick. You can even instantly translate the Hebrew text into English and leave comments on the text for others to see. You can even share your favourite verses on Twitter and Facebook.

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