Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Surprising salts on the Temple Scroll

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: Unique Salt Coating Helped Preserve 25-Foot-Long Dead Sea Scroll. Analysis shows that the unique processing of the Temple Scroll’s parchment kept it intact (Jason Daley, The Smithsonian).
To understand how the Temple Scroll survived all those years, a research team was given access to a 1-inch fragment of the parchment—itself just 1/250th of an inch thick—from The Shrine of the Book, a museum in Jerusalem that holds the scroll. Besides being super long, the scroll is unusual in several ways, Nicola Davis at The Guardian reports: The text is written on the flesh side of the skin, which is uncommon. The thin parchment may be an animal skin that has been split in two. And the text is written on a thick layer containing lots of inorganic minerals pressed into the collagen.
It seems that the results were unexpected. But the implications are unclear. Does this mean that the Temple Scroll was produced somewhere at a distance from the Dead Sea area? Maybe. The article at The Guardian collects a range of views from scholars.

The Smithsonian article covers the somewhat technical story in detail and it also links to the MIT press release and to the specialist article in Science Advances.

One point to underline is that this analysis used non-invasive and non-destructive technologies. As I have said many times, this is the way of the future.

Cross-file under Material Culture.

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