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The Dead Sea Scrolls: Unwrapping the Ein-Gedi Scroll

(September 2015)

Through a revolutionary process called “virtual unwrapping,” scientists in September 2016 were able to reconstruct and read an ancient piece of parchment containing a part of the book of Leviticus, that had been burned to ash 1,400 years ago. Manually opening the parchment would have damaged the materials and possibly caused the delicate scroll to disintegrate. After scanning the parchment digitally with X-ray-based micro-computed tomography (CT), the image was virtually flattened out and read for the first time since it's discovery in 1970.

The scan revealed 35 lines of ancient Hebrew text without vowels; only consonants. Carbon-dating allowed scientists to confidently state the scroll was written between the first and second centuries C.E.

This was the first time that scientists were able to noninvasively study a severely damaged scroll with ink text. Although the scroll was not found with the rest of the Dead Sea Scrolls, it has been labelled as one by scientists throughout the years.

Source: Geggel, Laura. “1,700-Year-Old Dead Sea Scroll 'Virtually Unwrapped,' Revealing Text,” LiveScience, (September 21, 2016);
Feltman, Rachel. “How scientists read an ancient and fragile biblical scroll without unrolling it,” Washington Post (September 21, 2016);