BAR 34:05, Sep/Oct 2008
Advances in Technology Provide New Approaches to Scrolls
If you think DNA genetic fingerprinting and super-high-intensity X-rays are changing the face of only hospitals and courtrooms, think again. Scholars and researchers are now using a host of hi-tech methods previously reserved for the medical and biomedical fields to dive deeper into the mysteries of the 2,000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls.
A team from Cardiff University in Wales has announced that it will use high-powered X-rays to virtually “unroll” parts of the scrolls that scholars have never been able to open. Using an electron accelerator the size of five football fields, scientists can produce high-intensity X-rays over 100 billion times brighter than standard medical X-rays. When this powerful light is harnessed and focused on ancient books or scrolls too fragile to open, it produces a “shadow” of anything written inside. The researchers hope that by X-raying the Scroll fragments from a number of different angles, they can then produce a composite image of the various letters and words from the sections that have remained hidden from view.