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Israeli scientists decipher 1,500 year-old biblical scroll

8f52f08fbdc5a7e7beb1972ace7ad8e5e49104f2REUTERS/Amir Cohen“An Israel Antiquities Authority worker displays a scroll, found in 1970, at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem July 20, 2015.”

Burnt scroll found 45 years ago in archaeological excavations is oldest biblical text since Dead Sea Scrolls

Israeli archaeologists said on Monday they had discerned biblical writing on a 1,500 year old scroll they deemed the oldest biblical text found since the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The completely charred scroll, which was found forty five years ago in archaeological excavations atEin Gedi, on the western shore of the Dead Sea, was unveiled at the Israel Antiquities Authority Jerusalem laboratoryin the Israel Museum.

Scientists and researchers around the globe who worked over one year to decipher the biblical verses, using state of the art and advanced technologies, were surprised to find the scroll to be a 1,500 year old copy of the first eight verses of the Book of Leviticus.

“This discovery absolutely astonished us,” said Pnina Shor, curator and director of the IAA’s Dead Sea Scrolls Projects.

“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!”

“The knowledge that we are preserving the most important find of the 20th century and one of the western world’s most important cultural treasures causes us to proceed with the utmost care and caution and use the most advanced technologies available today,” she added.

To decipher the burnt remains, the IAA began working with Merkel Technologies Company, Ltd. Israel, which performed high resolution 3D scanning of some Dead Sea Scrolls fragments and phylactery cases via a Micro-CT scanner.

After the fragment of the Ein Gedi scroll was scanned, the IAA sent the results to Professor Brent Seales of the University of Kentucky, who developed a digital-imaging software capable of virtually unrolling the scroll and visualizing the text.

“The deciphering of the scroll, which was a puzzle for us for 45 years, is very exciting,” said Dr. Sefi Porath, who led the Ein Gedi excavations.


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