Wednesday, June 29, 2016

New DSS readings

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: Was Noah's Arch Shaped Like a Pyramid? Digitized Dead Sea Scrolls Reveal New Secrets. Previously hidden sections of text on the ancient parchments are answering some long-standing questions – and raising others (Nir Hasson, Haaretz).
The roof of Noah’s Ark was pointed, the ptil Judah gave Tamar in the book of Genesis was his belt, and residents of Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, believed money could buy amnesty for sins. The above conclusions come from a new reading of the Dead Sea Scrolls – a reading made possible by a project to scan the scrolls with sophisticated technology that has revealed letters and words that were previously illegible.

For four and a half years, a laboratory established by the Israel Antiquities Authority as part of the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library project has been scanning all the scrolls in the authority’s possession with a custom-made camera. Each fragment – and there are tens of thousands of fragments – is photographed 28 times at high resolution using different wavelengths of light.

In some cases, the camera has revealed letters and words that had been erased, or were illegible because that portion of the parchment was burnt. And some of these discoveries have sparked interest because they offer new interpretations of well-known Biblical texts.

This new reading is especially interesting to me:
[Dr. Alexey] Yuditsky and Dr. Esther Haber also decoded another fragment that deals with Judgment Day. It describes a mythic hero named Melchizedek rescuing “captives” from a mythic villain named Belial.
And if you want to know more:
All the new words and their interpretations can be found on the academy’s website, Maagarim.
That's the Academy of the Hebrew Language. The website is here. It looks like you need to know Hebrew pretty well to nagivate it. Read the whole article before it disappears behind the subscription wall.

As we like to say at PaleoJudaica: Bit by bit, a letter at a time, whatever it takes. Until we're done.

UPDATE: Dr Yuditsky has pointed me to the following English-language essay by Chanan Ariel at for more information on the project: Semantic Observations on the Dead Sea Scrolls preliminary abbreviated version (translation).