NASA technology reveals hidden text on Dead Sea Scrolls

Hidden letters found in Dead Sea Scrolls may form part of an undiscovered ancient manuscript

REVEALED: NASA technology finds hidden letters in 2000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls

Researcher Oren Ableman examined a few dozen fragments as part of a long-term project to digitise the ancient scrolls.

The authority said the fragments "provide new insights" to researchers studying the scrolls.

Discovered between 1946 and 1956, the scrolls include tends of thousands of parchment and papyrus fragments and in rare cases entire manuscripts. One of the fragments may even indicate the existence of a hitherto unknown manuscript.

A specialized camera originally developed for NASA has helped researchers in Israel discover previously hidden text on the Dead Sea Scrolls.

As part of the digitization project, each of the thousands of fragments is imaged in order to monitor its physical condition and make the best possible images available to the public.

In total, more than 1,000 ancient manuscripts have been discovered from 11 different caves.

The Israel Antiquities Authority showed fragments at a conference entitled "The Dead Sea Scrolls at Seventy". Still, due to the fragmentary nature of the evidence, these reconstructions are not certain, though they are considered highly likely.

Hidden letters found in Dead Sea Scrolls may form part of an undiscovered ancient manuscript
Scientists have identified possible Dead Sea manuscripts thanks to NASA

The newly discovered texts have been identified as belonging to the books of Deuteronomy, Leviticus, and Jubilees, also known as the Lesser Genesis.

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. The discoveries also confirmed the existence of three copies of the Temple Scroll, settling a longstanding debate among scholars.

His infrared scans revealed ink invisible to the naked eye on a fragment now known to belong to a third copy of the Temple Scroll, a text of God dictating to Moses how a temple should be built and how its services should be performed. The new fragment preserves part of the beginning of Psalm 147:1.

The findings provide further insight into how Judaism was practiced during a historically loaded period when Israelites clashed with the Roman Empire almost 2,000 years ago and hint at the existence of a completely unknown manuscript.

One of those fragments could not be attributed to any known manuscripts, raising the possibility that it belongs to a still unknown text.

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

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