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German-Israeli Project To Bring The Dead Sea Scrolls Alive On The Screen

A German-Israeli project aims to bring the digitization of the Dead Sea Scrolls to a new level by June 2021, allowing scholars and the public alike to access and examine the 2,000-years-old materials as never before.

Researchers and computer scientists have been working on the Scripta Qumranica Electronica platform for four years. The initiative is the result of a cooperation between the University of Göttingen (Theological), the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), the Faculty of Humanities at Haifa University and the School of Computer Sciences at Tel Aviv University. Additional partners are the TAU Department of Hebrew Culture Studies and the Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

“We are creating two main resources, a website that provides digital editions of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and a web-based research environment that enables scholars to create and share their own digital critical editions of individual manuscripts,” project manager Bronson Brown-deVost explained during the virtual conference. The Dead Sea Scrolls in Recent Scholarship sponsored by the New York University Global Network for Advanced Research in Jewish Studies & the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies and the Friends of the Israel Antiquities Authority from May 17 to May 20.

An online virtual library of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library is already available, created by the IAA in cooperation with Google. Scripta Qumranica Electronica employs its resources, as well as the resources offered by the Qumran-Lexicon-project of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities to bring the digitization to a new level of opportunities, as pointed out by Brown-deVost.

“What exactly defines a digital edition?” the scholar asked. “We are still trying to explore that question and we will continue to do so long after this project reaches its conclusion.”

Brown-deVost illustrated some of the concepts that characterize the process of an editor creating an edition in the platform.

“First, an editor usually organizes the material for the edition. This may include materials previously organized by other colleagues,” he highlighted. “Secondly, the editor will decide how to instruct the edition and what accompanying notes and commentary should be included in it. Due to the limitations of print, the editor must usually place boundaries on how much ancillary information is in the volume and how much is limited by the print media itself, for instance life-size mockups of the scrolls is difficult to share as are large numbers of high-resolution images. Such restrictions do not apply to digital editions.”

By Rossella Tercatin – The Jerusalem Post