The En-Gedi Scroll Deciphered… Virtually

Timeline showing where the En-Gedi scroll fits in, relative to the Dead Sea Scrolls and much later discoveries of the preserved Hebrew Bible.

Timeline showing where the En-Gedi scroll fits in, relative to the Dead Sea Scrolls and much later discoveries of the preserved Hebrew Bible.

In the early 1970s, a team of Israeli archaeologists uncovered the charred remains of a scroll at an ancient synagogue in Ein Gedi, in Israel. Unfortunately, the rolled up scroll was so heavily damaged, that it was impossible to unroll and decipher it without destroying the artifact…. until now.

A computer scientist at the University of Kentucky, Brent Seales, has developed a technique that essentially performs a series of CT scans, that could recover the ink markings from inside the scroll, without having to physically unwrap the delicate object. Inside the scroll, that dates to about the 3rd century A.D., researchers were finally able to read the first eight verses of the Book of Leviticus.

These verses correspond exactly to the ancient Hebrew text, the Masoretic text, preserved by the Jewish community since the medieval period. This would make the En-Gedi scroll the most significant find of Old Testament Hebrew writings, second only to the Dead Scrolls… Read about the geeky side of the story here.

About Clarke Morledge

Clarke Morledge -- Computer Network Engineer, College of William and Mary... I hiked the Mount of the Holy Cross, one of the famous Colorado Fourteeners, with some friends in July, 2012. My buddy, Mike Scott, snapped this photo of me on the summit. View all posts by Clarke Morledge

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