Scientists have identified possible Dead Sea manuscripts thanks to NASA


The Israel Antiquities Authority said examinations of some fragments that had not previously been sorted or deciphered due to their "small size and precarious physical state" uncovered new script and pointed to the existence of an unknown manuscript.

Advanced imaging technology - developed especially for the Dead Sea Scrolls and located at the Scrolls' conservation labs of the Israel Antiquities Authority - has revealed script that could not be seen until now.

"In Qumran were initially found about 900 manuscripts, a very important collection, some in good condition, but mostly very fragmented and poorly preserved", explained Beatriz Riestra Efe, researcher of the aforementioned unit.

Modern technology including the use of a multispectral imaging camera developed by NASA have revealed letters on some fragments which were previously unknown.

Recently, as part of the Scrolls' digitization project, sample examinations were conducted among the boxes.

The Scrolls contained versions of many Biblical texts - including books which were not canonised in the Hebrew Bible, such as "Jubilees".

Most intriguingly, we now know that one fragment bears letters of a paleo-Hebrew language that could not be attributed to any of the manuscripts that have been discovered thus far.

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Scholars are in debate if there are two or three copies of the Temple Scroll found in Cave 11 near Qumran.

He found 'traces of ink on many fragments that appeared blank to the naked eye, ' the antiques authority said in a statement.

The findings formed a larger manuscript which have been come to be known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.

'The identification of new letters and words provides new data for the study of the scrolls. After a detailed study, Oren successfully deciphered the script on numerous fragments and even identified the manuscripts some of the new fragments probably belonged to.

The texts are of great historical and religious significance and include the earliest known surviving copies of biblical and extra-biblical documents, as well as preserving evidence of diversity in late Second Temple Judaism.

The 2,000-year-old fragments belonging to cave number 11 of the Qumran complex were stored in cigar boxes because "the archaeologists of the 1950s (when the manuscripts were discovered) used the cigar boxes as tupperware", Ableman to the newspaper The Times of Israel.

'That leads me to believe we are dealing with a manuscript that we didn't know about'.