From Qumran Caves to the Internet - the Open Science Publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls, found from 1947 onwards in the Qumran caves in the Judean Desert near the Dead Sea, have been published in open science form on the internet.

05/29/2019 | 3:42 PM

The Dead Sea Scrolls, consisting of many thousands of written fragments, are dated from the beginning of the Common Era. They have had a tremendous impact on the study of early Judaism, early Christianity, and the history of the Hebrew language. The content of some of these fragments ended up in the Hebrew Bible for example, thereby disclosing some of the formation processes it has undergone. Needless to say, the Dead Sea Scrolls offer a unique insight in the religious diversity of that time.

Open Science
By publishing the digitally analysed Dead Sea Scrolls online for all to share and adapt, provided that the use is non-commercial and the right attribution is given, scholars and non-scholars alike are given the chance to freely study these significant texts. In addition, the methods and tools that generated the ‘Dead Sea Scrolls data’ are also publicly available. The Dead Sea Scrolls have been made available in the Text-Fabric format. Text-Fabric is a free browser and Python3 a package for processing and analysing ancient text corpora.

This open science publication, together with Digital Humanities tools that support advanced linguistic analysis of these scrolls, will doubtlessly lead to new insights and discoveries in this exciting field of study.

This unprecedented publication has been made possible by years of reconstruction and annotation work by the notable Dead Sea Scrolls scholar Martin Abegg and his colleagues and a team of Biblical data scientists working in the Creating Annotated Corpora of Classical Hebrew Texts (CACCHT) project. CACCHT is a joint project of the Eep Talstra Centre for Bible and Computer (ETCBC) and the Theological Seminary at Andrews University.

For more information see the project webpage and a blogpost on the ETCBC website.