Google Brings the Dead Sea Scrolls Online

Between 1947 and 1956, after a chance discovery by a Bedouin shepherd, archaeologist found hundreds of ancient texts written between the third and first century BC in caves near an old settlement not too far away from the Dead Sea. These so-called “Dead Sea Scrolls” feature, among other texts, some of the oldest surviving copies of numerous biblical texts. Written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, they are preserved in a highly secure building in Jerusalem where only a few of the scrolls are ever exhibited at the same time. Now, however, Google, in cooperation with the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, is putting some of the rolls online.

This new project is similar to Google’s work in getting the Yad Vashem Holocaust photo collection and collections at the Prado Museum in Madrid online. One interesting twist here is that Google is also making these texts searchable. If you search for phrases in the scrolls (Google’s example is: Dead Sea Scrolls “In the day of thy planting thou didst make it to grow”), a link to the scrolls may appear in your search results.


The scrolls were scanned with a resolution of up to  1,200 megapixels by Ardon Bar-Hama, who also worked on digitizing documents from the Bodleian Library in Oxford, the New York Public Library and is currently working with Google on digitizing the journals and archival documents of Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.