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21 Nov 2014 Q&A Comments (6)

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CT scan reveals Biblical discovery in ancient scroll

An ancient scroll’s charred remains were discovered after a fire at the Dead Sea. Scientists believed they would never discover what was written inside – until now.

According to National Geographic, a fire raged 1,500 years ago through an oasis located on the Dead Sea’s western shore.

The town’s synagogue’s Holy Ark survived with a fragmented scroll made from animal skin.

The scroll had been burned into charcoal, leading researchers to believe they would never know what secrets lay buried within the crisp exterior.

The Israel Antiquities Authority took charge of the brittle document known as the Ein Gedi Scroll.

Scientists have been working tirelessly for decades to reveal the hidden messages in scrolls such as these and last year, they finally announced a method to uncover some of the world’s most curious secrets.

Author Brent Seales of the University of Kentucky, who specializes in digitally reconstructing damaged texts, explained: “I’ve worked for decades now with technology and damaged materials and over that time I’ve become convinced that this day was possible.

“The Ein Gedi Scroll is proof positive that we can potentially recover the whole text from damaged material, not just a few letters or speculative word.”

CT, and other preliminary scans, revealed the Ein Gedi Scroll was a section from Leviticus copied in between 1,700 and 1,800 years ago.

The full scan results were published in Science Advances and reveal the first two chapters of Leviticus, which ironically speaks of God’s instructions for burned offerings.

University of Cambridge lecturer James Aitken told Smithsonian’s Devin Powell: “There’s little of surprise in finding a Leviticus scroll. We probably have m any more copies of it than any other book, as its Hebrew style is so simple and repetitive that it was used for children’s writing exercises.”
Coauthor Michael Segal, a biblical scholar at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, added: “I think we can safely say that since the completion of the publication of the Curpus of Dead Sea Scrolls about a decade ago…the Ein Gedi Leciticus Scroll is the most extensive and significant biblical text from antiquity that has come to light.”

Now, with evidence of accurate scanning technology, Seales and his team hope to extract texts from Herculaneum, which remain wrapped.

By Kenya Sinclair


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