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University of Kentucky Unlocks Biblical Scroll's Secrets by Technology

Image: University of Kentucky Unlocks Biblical Scroll's Secrets by Technology

University of Kentucky professor Brent Seals used imaging technology to digitally unwrap and read an ancient scroll damaged by fire. (Brent Seales/University of Kentucky)

By    |   Thursday, 22 Sep 2016 08:43 AM

A University of Kentucky professor has help reveal a biblical scroll's secrets though imaging technology, giving researchers a look at ancient text that includes part of the Book of Leviticus in the Hebrew Bible that was previously damaged by fire.

Brent Seales, the university professor and lead author of the study on the En-Gedi scroll, said his team used a complex digital analysis called "virtual unwrapping" that included scanning the delicate document and then virtually flattening the results, allowing scholars to read the text tucked inside, Live Science noted.

"We're reading a real scroll," Seales, chair of the university's computer science department, said at a news conference Tuesday, according to Live Science. "It hasn't been read for millennia. Many thought it was probably impossible to read."

The document was damage by fire about 1,400 years ago, Live Science said. Archaeologists found the scroll in 1970 in En-Gedi, Israel. An ancient Jewish community lived there 700 B.C. to about A.D. 600 when it was destroyed by a fire.

Seales and his study's coauthors describe the process of virtually unwrapping the document in the Sept. 21 edition of the journal Science Advance. The journal includes a master image of the virtually unrolled scroll containing 35 lines of text, of which 18 have been preserved and another 17 have been reconstructed, the University of Kentucky said in a statement.

"This work opens a new window through which we can look back through time by reading materials that were thought lost through damage and decay," Seales said in the University of Kentucky statement. "There are so many other unique and exciting materials that may yet give up their secrets — we are only beginning to discover what they may hold.

"We are releasing all our data for the scroll from En-Gedi: the scans, our geometric analysis, the final texture. We think that the scholarly community will have interest in the data and the process as well as our results," Seales continued.

The team revealed the first eight verses of the Book of Leviticus on the scroll in 2015 with the process, wrote the university. The physical document could not be opened because of its charred condition, but the high-tech scanning allowed the research team to pick up substantial ink-based text.

The recovery was high quality enough for scholars at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to conduct a textual analysis.

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A University of Kentucky professor has help reveal a biblical scroll's secrets though imaging technology, giving researchers a look at ancient text that includes part of the Book of Leviticus in the Hebrew Bible that was previously damaged by fire.
university of kentucky, biblical scroll, technology
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2016-43-22
Thursday, 22 Sep 2016 08:43 AM
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