Scientists have identified possible Dead Sea manuscripts thanks to NASA


Fragments of a possible new manuscript of the Dead Sea Scrolls have been identified thanks to a technology specifically developed by NASA for this research, reported researchers from the Dead Sea Scrolls Unit at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Hundreds of small fragments stored in boxes of cigars have been studied in recent years by Dr. Oren Ableman, and today are being exhibited at the international symposium that celebrates the 70th anniversary of the discovery of the thousand-year-old Qumran Scrolls.

“In Qumran were initially found about 900 manuscripts, a very important collection, some in good condition, but mostly very fragmented and poorly preserved,” explained Beatriz Riestra Efe, researcher of the aforementioned unit.

“They are religious literary works, the oldest copies in Hebrew of the Old Testament and another type of religious literature from a very important time for both Judaism and Christianity, but this new fragment can not be attributed to the manuscripts we know and may belong to a new one that we do not know of at all,” said Riestra.


A curator from the Dead Sea Scrolls lab shows off a fragment of one of the Sea Scrolls in Jerusalem, Israel.

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.

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The specialist studied the tiny pieces of manuscripts, which had not been cleaned or treated, with the help of a multispectral scanner, developed by the US Space Agency (NASA) for this Israeli laboratory.

“This type of scanner allows us to read what is invisible to the naked eye, thanks to infrared rays that allow us to see traces of letters that are apparently not visible,” explained Beatriz Riestra.

Abbad Farid

Abbad holds a degree in Journalism from the University of Cumbria and covers mostly world news for The Talking Democrat