1,700 year-old scroll including text from Hebrew Bible is revealed using groundbreaking digital technique

1,700 year-old scroll including text from the Hebrew Bible is revealed

The scroll was damaged by fire around 1,400 years ago (Wikimedia)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A scroll which includes part of the text from the book of Leviticus in the Hebrew Bible has now become readable using digital analysis.

The En-Gedi scroll is thought to be over 1,700 years old and seems to have been damaged by fire around 1,400 years ago. Unfurling the scroll would have caused so much damage it would have been destroyed.

Now, a process called virtual unwrapping has allowed the document to be digitally scanned and virtually flattened, meaning scholars can now read the text.

It was originally found in 1970 in En-Gedi, where ancient Jewish societies lived between the late 700s B.C. and about A.D. 600.

The scroll had been in storage for more than 40 years before virtual unwrapping was tried.

X-ray-based micro-computed tomography scans were sent from Israel to Kentucky to complete the unwrapping. This is the first time that a damaged scroll has been noninvasively virtually unrolled. 

The scroll holds the third of the five books of Moses which makes up the Hebrew Bible, and is the earliest copy of a Pentateuchal book ever found in a Holy Ark.