Google and Israel put ancient Dead Sea scrolls for anyone to view
Google has partnered with the Israeli government to put 5,000 images of the Dead Sea Scrolls online in full colour and high resolution, it has been revealed.
More than six decades since the discovery of the scrolls, they are now finally available for anyone with an Internet connection to see.
The digital library contains the 'Book of Deuteronomy', which includes the second listing of the Ten Commandments, and a portion of the first chapter of the 'Book of Genesis', dated to the first century BC.
According to Israeli officials, this is part of an attempt by the custodians of the celebrated manuscripts to make them broadly available.
They have been often criticised for allowing the artefacts to be monopolised by small circles of scholars.
"Only five conservators worldwide are authorised to handle the Dead Sea Scrolls," the Daily Mail quoted Shuka Dorfman, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority, as saying.
"Now, everyone can touch the scroll on screen around the globe," Dorfman said.
Considered one of the most significant archaeological finds of the 20th century, the scrolls are thought to be the work of an ascetic Jewish sect that fled Jerusalem 2,000 years ago and settled at Qumran, near the shore of the Dead Sea.
According to Google, the new digital library took two years to assemble, using technology first developed by NASA.
The multimedia website allows users to zoom in on various fragments, with translations and Google maps alongside.
Discovered between 1946 and 1956, the Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 ancient manuscripts containing parts of what is now known as the Hebrew Bible, as well as a range of extra-biblical documents.