Jul 21, 2015
3D Scan Deciphers Ancient Scroll

Archaeologists made an astonishing find of the most ancient Hebrew scroll that from a charred artifact burnt 1,500 years ago.

By Shay Halevi

For the first time, advanced technologies made it possible to read parts of a scroll that was completely burnt c. 1,500 years, inside the Holy Ark of the synagogue at Ein Gedi.

At the end of extremely challenging efforts which lasted over a year, the scientists and researchers were amazed to see verses from the beginning of the Book of Leviticus, suddenly coming back to life.

The parchment scroll was unearthed in 1970 in archaeological excavations in the synagogue at Ein Gedi, headed by the late Dr. Dan Barag and Dr. Sefi Porath. However, due to its charred condition, it was not possible to either preserve or decipher it.

The Lunder Family Dead Sea Scrolls Conservation Center of the Israel Antiquities Authority, which uses state of the art and advanced technologies to preserve and document the Dead Sea scrolls, enabled the discovery of this important find.

It turns out that part of this scroll is from the beginning of the Book of Leviticus, written in Hebrew, and dated by C14 analysis to the late sixth–century CE. To date, this is the most ancient scroll from the five books of the Hebrew Bible to be found since the Dead Sea scrolls, most of which are ascribed to the end of the Second Temple period (first century BCE-first century CE).

The Israel Antiquities Authority has been cooperating with scientists from Israel and abroad to preserve and digitize the Dead Sea Scrolls. About a year ago Merkel Technologies Company, Ltd. Israel, offered their professional assistance in performing high resolution 3D scanning of some Dead Sea Scrolls fragments and tefillin cases by means of a Micro-CT scanner.

The fragment of the Ein Gedi scroll was scanned along with the phylacteries and phylactery cases. The Israel Antiquities Authority then sent the outcome of these scans to Professor Brent Seales of the University of Kentucky who developed a digital imaging software which allows to virtually unroll the scroll and visualize the text. Thus, the great surprise and excitement when the first 8 verses of the Book of Leviticus suddenly became legible.

This is the first time in any archaeological excavation that a Torah scroll was found in a synagogue, particularly inside a Holy Ark.

"The deciphering of the scroll, which was a puzzle for us for 45 years, is very exciting," says Dr. Porath. "Ein Gedi was a Jewish village in the Byzantine period (fourth–seventh century CE) and had a synagogue with an exquisite mosaic floor and a Holy Ark."

"The settlement was completely burnt to the ground, and none of its inhabitants ever returned to reside there again, or to pick through the ruins in order to salvage valuable property," he said.

Dr. Porath told that "in the archaeological excavations of the burnt synagogue, we found in addition to the charred scroll fragments, a bronze seven-branched candelabrum (menorah), the community’s money box containing c. 3,500 coins, glass and ceramic oil lamps, and vessels that held perfume. We have no information regarding the cause of the fire, but speculation about the destruction ranges from Bedouin raiders from the region east of the Dead Sea to conflicts with the Byzantine government."

According to Pnina Shor, curator and director of IAA's Dead Sea Scrolls Projects, "This discovery absolutely astonished us: we were certain it was just a shot in the dark but decided to try and scan the burnt scroll anyway. Now, not only can we bequeath the Dead Sea Scrolls to future generations, but also a part of the Bible from a Holy Ark of a 1,500-year old synagogue!"

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1
We cannot outdue saying Baruch HaShem enough times in 24/7
Amazing and to be given the technology now B"H should connect us even closer to the reasons of the blueprint emmes in Torah and one another!
(7/21/2015 3:10:04 PM)
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