From Parchment to Webpage: A Digital Database for the Dead Sea Scrolls

Blog post written by Dr. Micha Perry, head of the international master’s program in Jewish Studies, on creating a digital searchable database of 2000 year old Dead Sea Scrolls.

Grotta_qumran
Qumran, the hiding place of the Dead Sea Scrolls

A new international project led by Dr. Jonathan Ben Dov (Department of Bible, International M.A. program in Jewish Studies, University of Haifa) aims to created a Dead Sea Scrolls Aggregated Database and Virtual Research Environment. The projet titled: ‘Scripta Qumranica Electronica’ is funded by The Deutsch-Israelische-Projektförderung (DIP) and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).

The project is a collaboration of Dead Sea Scrolls scholars with computer scientists, and aims to create a dynamic, virtual research environment for the digitalization of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Alongside Dr. Jonathan Ben Dov will work colleagues from Göttingen, Uni-versity of Potsdam (Germany); Tel Aviv University, Israel Antiquities Authority (Isra-el); and École Pratique des Hautes Etudes (Paris).

The main outcome of the project will be in the form of an enhanced hands-on work-space for scholars examining fragments and a standardized environment for collaborative production and presentation of Dead Sea Scrolls editions. It will feature advanced tools for clustering fragments, and suggesting joins and jigsaw-puzzling them, as well as for monitoring the material reconstructions of scrolls.

The environment will also offer paleographic tools and an alignment tool to connect text and image. It will allow the reader access not only to the ‘text’ of a given composition in its original language with an English translation, but also to its distinct copies, to high-resolution images of the fragments, to dictionary entries, and to parallel texts. The platform will also include an inventory, collecting and recording all variants of biblical texts in the Dead Sea Scrolls according to a multi-dimensional classification scheme.

The project is planned for five years and will be funded with ca. EURO 1.6 million.

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If you are interested in learning more about this and other opportunities, please vist our website for the master’s program in Jewish Studies, or you email us at infograd@univ.haifa.ac.il.

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