For decades since the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, dozens of tiny fragments of the manuscripts have appeared blank.
But archaeologists have used Nasa technology to unveil script on the fragments. It has opened the door to see text that previously was indistinguishable from the parchment paper they were written on, which has darkened with age.
The technology is a multi-spectral imaging camera developed for NASA’s Hubble program. The camera used infrared wavelengths that helped increase the contrast between the paper and the ink.
These fragments now offer puzzle pieces of text from the books of Deuteronomy, Leviticus, Jubilees (known as the lesser Genius) and The Temple Scroll. There is also text giving instructions on conducting temple services and a shorter version of Psalm 147:1.
Experts were excited to find text not previously associated with other writings. That means there may be other manuscripts we don’t yet know about.
Dead Sea Scrolls Discovery
- Bedouin shepherds found the Dead Sea Scrolls between 1947 and 1956 in caves along the Dead Sea. On some of our tours you can visit one of the main caves where they were found (pictured at the left), called Qumran.
Thousands of fragments, which contain some of the oldest copies discovered of the Hebrew Torah books, were found throughout Qumran’s 11 caves. Experts believe the scrolls were smuggled out Jerusalem during First Jewish Revolt (A.D. 66-70) against the Roman Empire.
Significance of the Manuscripts
These documents give us a glimpse into Judaism in the Second Temple period and validate and enhance the Hebrew Bible. They are dated from 250 BC to 68 AD, which puts them much closer to the original author than previously discovered scripts.
While there are many non-biblical scripts included in the Dead Sea scrolls, they too enhance our understanding of the the biblical ones and the time period. They place research closer to the origins of Scripture than ever before.
See Dead Sea Scrolls for Yourself
The new pieces of text are a timely discovery for those who are booking tours and cruises with us in the next year. Dr. Adolfo Roitman who is curator of the Shrine of the Book in Israel, where the Dead Sea Scrolls are housed, will be on hand to delve into the significance of the scrolls.