Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Monday 25 October |
Saint of the Day: Sts Gavin, Protus, and Januarius
Aleteia logo
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

Modern technology reveals hidden text on Dead Sea Scroll fragment

Dead Scrolls

The University of Manchester

J-P Mauro - published on 05/21/20

Researchers had considered the fragments to be blank scraps of paper.

A collection of fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls that were previously believed to be blank have been shown to hold the remains of Hebrew text, thanks to the application of modern technology.

The study was performed by the Network for the Study of Dispersed Qumran Cave Artefacts and Archival Sources (DQCAAS), which explained that the fragments were donated to the University of Leeds in the 1950s for analysis of their physical and chemical composition. Because they were seen as blank bits of scrap paper, they were thought to be perfect for such analysis, which could harm the more complete scrolls.

The team explained that after sitting in storage for the majority of the second half of the 20th century, the samples were donated to the University of Manchester in 1997, where they remained for another two decades. They were given little thought until Professor Joan Taylor recently prepared to conduct a new study on their materials, but when she began examining them, she caught a glimpse of a figure that looked distinctly like a faded Hebrew letter. In the report, Taylor commented:

“Looking at one of the fragments with a magnifying glass, I thought I saw a small, faded letter – a lamed, the Hebrew letter ‘L’,” said Professor Taylor. “Frankly, since all these fragments were supposed to be blank and had even been cut into for leather studies, I also thought I might be imagining things. But then it seemed maybe other fragments could have very faded letters, too.”

Enticed by this new lead, the University of Manchester website reports, Taylor subjected the 51 fragments to multispectral imaging, which revealed clear lettering on four of the samples. The clearest of these contains 15-16 letters, most of which are only partial, but one fragment was clearly identified as the Hebrew word Shabbat, meaning Sabbath.

It is unclear what further revelations might be gleaned from this discovery, but the DQCAAS team is preparing to commence a new study on these Dead Sea Scroll fragments, which will hopefully be published in the upcoming months. Click here to read the full report.

Tags:
ArchaeologyHistoryScienceTechnology
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
Marinella Bandini
Exclusive: Carlo Acutis as seen by his mother
2
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio replied to John Paul II’s letter with a miracle
3
VENERABLE SANDRA SABATTINI
Philip Kosloski
Meet Sandra Sabattini, a newly beatified 22-year-old
4
Theresa Civantos Barber
St. John Paul II’s perfect advice for lasting love in marriage
5
POPE JOHN PAUL II
Cerith Gardiner
A collection of Pope John Paul II’s quotes on some of life’s most...
6
WEB2-Bishop_Michael.jpg
John Burger
Once considered for top post in Anglican Church, former bishop be...
7
peace
Philip Kosloski
How kindness begins in your heart
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.