The Google R&D Center in Israel has partnered with the Israel Antiquities Authority in an effort to make Dead Sea scrolls available online for free.
The amazing project aims at creating the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library, which will include hi-resolution and multi spectra images of the entire collection — 900 manuscripts that have some 30,000 Dead Sea Scrolls fragments.
The imaging technology will be supplied by MegaVision, a U.S. based company, while Google will be in charge with uploading the images to the Internet and performing meaningful searches across a broad range of data in a number of languages and formats.
All these will result in “unprecedented scholarly and popular access to the Scrolls and related research” as each scroll will have meta-data including transcriptions, translations and bibliography.
Not sure about you folks, but that sounds nothing short of cool. Just imagine browsing through all these scrolls from the comfort of your home.
For more info, check out the press release below.
Israel Antiquities Authority, Partner with Google R&D Center in Israel – To Make Dead Sea Scrolls Available On-line
With Lead Funding from the Leon Levy Foundation and a Major Donation of the Arcadia Foundation
“Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library” Will Enable Imaging, Digitization of 900-Manuscript Collection
19 October 2010 — As part of the celebrations on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of its establishment, the Israel Antiquities Authority is launching a unique project – The Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library – to document the entire collection of the Dead Sea Srolls.
A major lead gift from the Leon Levy Foundation, with additional major funding from the Arcadia Foundation and the support of Yad Hanadiv Foundation, will enable the Israel Antiquities Authority to use the most advanced and innovative technologies available to image the entire collection of 900 manuscripts comprising c. 30,000 Dead Sea Scrolls fragments in hi-resolution and multi spectra and make the digitized images freely available and accessible to anyone anywhere in the world on the internet. This is the first time that the collection of Scrolls will be photographed in its entirety since the 1950’s.
The IAA announced this morning that it is collaborating with the Google R&D center in Israel in this milestone project to upload not only all of the digitized Scrolls images but also additional data online that will allow users to perform meaningful searches across a broad range of data in a number of languages and formats, which will result in unprecedented scholarly and popular access to the Scrolls and related research and scholarship and should lead to new insights into the world of the Scrolls.
The innovative imaging technology to be used in the project has been developed by MegaVision, a U.S. based company, and will be installed in the IAA’s laboratories in early 2011. The MegaVision system will enable the digital imaging of every Scroll fragment in various wavelengths in the highest resolution possible and allow long term monitoring for preservation purposes in a non-invasive and precise manner. The images will be equal in quality to the actual physical viewing of the Scrolls, thus eliminating the need for re-exposure of the Scrolls and allowing their preservation for future generations. The technology will also help rediscover writing and letters that have “vanished” over the years; with the help of infra-red light and wavelengths beyond, these writings will be brought “back to life”, facilitating new possibilities in Dead Sea Scrolls research.
Uploading the images to the internet will be achieved with the assistance of Google-Israel and will be accompanied by meta-data including transcriptions, translations and bibliography.
According to Shuka Dorfman, IAA General Director, “we are establishing a milestone connection between progress and the past to preserve this unique heritage for future generations. At the end of a comprehensive and profound examination we have succeeded in recruiting the best minds and technological means to preserve this unrivalled cultural heritage treasure which belongs to all of us, so that the public with a click of the mouse will be able to freely access history in its fullest glamour. We are proud to be embarking on a project that will provide unlimited access to one of the most important archaeological finds of the 20th Century, crucial to Biblical studies and the history of Judaism and early Christianity. We are profoundly grateful to Shelby White and the Leon Levy Foundation for their lead major gift and to the Arcadia Foundation for its major gift to this project.”
Professor Yossi Matias, Director of Google-Israel R&D center, said that “We are proud to take part in a project that will share the IAA’s National Treasures with the entire world. This project will enrich and preserve an important and meaningful part of world heritage by making it accessible to all on the internet. We shall continue with this historical effort to make all existing knowledge in archives and storages available to all”.
The announcement this morning comes after 3 years of research in which the IAA investigated the best imaging technologies, information systems, and preservation methods and raised the necessary funds to begin the project. Pnina Shor is the project manger on behalf of the IAA and is assisted by academic institutions and the best professionals in their respective fields in Israel and abroad, including Prof. Steve Weiner from the Weitzman Institute, Prof. Zeev Aizenshtat from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Dr. Gregory Bearman, formerly a principal scientist at the jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Dianne van der Reyden, Director of the Library of Congress Preservation Directorate, Washington, USA, and Prof. Emilio Marengo and Marcello Manferdi from Eastern Piemont University, Italy.
About The Leon Levy Foundation: The Leon Levy Foundation, founded in 2004, is a private, not-for-profit foundation created from the estate of Leon Levy, a legendary investor with a longstanding commitment to philanthropy. The Foundation’s overarching goal is to continue the tradition of humanism characteristic of Mr. Levy by supporting scholarship at the highest level, ultimately advancing knowledge and improving the lives of individuals and society at large. www.leonlevy.org
About the Arcadia foundation: Arcadia is the charitable foundation of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin. Since inception in 2001 Arcadia has awarded in excess of $192 million. For more details on Arcadia please visit their website www.arcadiafund.org.uk
The Israel Antiquities Authority is the preeminent organization in the field of Israeli and Biblical archaeology. It is responsible for all matters of archaeology in Israel including land and marine excavations, development and protection of archaeological sites, archaeological research, education, publication, conservation and restoration of objects and sites, and presentation of archaeological material in Israel and abroad. It is the custodian of the National Collections, including nearly 1 million archaeological objects among them the Dead Sea Scrolls, and more than 20,000 archaeological sites throughout Israel. The archaeological work conducted in the country is both universal in preserving the heritage of all humankind and the historic record of human culture in the world of Israel, and at the same time uniquely meaningful to the Jewish people and the State of Israel. www.antiquities.org.il