Dead Sea scrolls get Googled

Google is lending the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) a hand in putting the 2,000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls online.

The 30,000 fragments that make up the collection of biblical manuscripts will be captured in high resolution and made "accessible to all on the Internet," in the words of professor Yossi Matias, of Google Israel.

The collection of scrolls was discovered in 1947 inside clay jars in caves near the ancient settlement of Qumran. The Scrolls are dated at around 2,000 years old.

The some of the collected texts of a radical community were preserved, amongst which are some of the oldest examples of Biblical texts, including the earliest known version of the ten commandments.

The imaging technology to be installed by the IAA has been developed by a specialist in the field, MegaVision. The company's EurekaVision process involves the use of high-resolution photography and multi-spectral image capture with 12 or more spectral bands using narrow-bank LED illumination. To avoid damage, the Scrolls will subjected to just enough light energy to expose a highly sensitive monochrome sensor.

It's the first time the 1950s that the Scrolls will be photographed. Many of the fragments lie in darkened, climate-controlled rooms preserved from the harsh light of day. Some of the sturdier fragments can be viewed in a purpose-built gallery in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

Google will be pitching in with some search expertise designed to allow users to perform meaningful searches across a broad range of data, presented in a variety of languages and formats.