One of the earliest manuscripts of the Old Testament was revealed by researchers at the University of Kentucky. This scroll, which contains portions of the book of Leviticus, was discovered in 1970, but was unreadable because it suffered from fire damage 1,500 years ago. Modern technology made it possible to scan and “virtually” unwrap it without actually touching it and destroying it in its fragile state. This video from the Wall Street Journal explains the process:
Emanuel Tov of the Hebrew University explains its importance,”For scholars, the scroll brings the good news that the text has not changed for 2,000 years.”
Breaking News Israel reports:
This week, incredible cutting-edge technology allowed archaeologists to finally read the contents of a burned 1,500-year-old scroll found near the Dead Sea in 1970. The remarkable discovery of verses from the Book of Leviticus, which matched, letter for letter, the Hebrew text still in use today, is the first instance of one of the Five Books of Moses ever found in a Holy Ark.
On Wednesday, researchers in Kentucky and Jerusalem announced in the Science Advances journal the success of new technology called ‘virtual unwrapping’. A complicated and difficult process based on the technology used in medical CT scans, researchers said it “represents a significant leap forward in the field of manuscript recovery, conservation, and analysis”.
The technique allowed scientists to read the Ein Gedi Scroll, a charred, ancient parchment discovered in an ancient destroyed synagogue on the shores of the Dead Sea more than forty years ago which has sat on a shelf, untouchable and indecipherable, ever since.
The scroll contains the first eight verses of Leviticus and dates from either the 1st or 2nd century CE and when compared to the Torah used today it is identical. This is the earliest discovery of an Old Testament manuscript since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947.
“Researchers Reconstruct Early Version of Old Testament Text From Burned Scroll,” Robert Lee Hotz | Wall Street Journal, Sept 21, 2016
“Burned Mystery Scroll Digitally Unraveled Reveals Bible Unchanged for 2,000 Years,” Adam Berkowitz | Breaking Israel News, Sept 21, 2016
“Computers Decipher Burnt Scroll Found in Ancient Holy Ark,” Michael Greshko | National Geographic, Sept 21, 2016
“Scientists Use ‘Virtual Unwrapping’ to Read Ancient Biblical Scroll Reduced to ‘Lump of Coal’ “ Ian Sample | The Guardian, Sept 22, 2016
“From Damage to Discovery Via Virtual Unwrapping,” William B Seales, et. al | Science Advances, Sept 21, 2016
Post about other biblical archaeological discoveries from this blog include: