Scientists discover fragments of Dead Sea Scrolls contain Hebrew text invisible to naked eye

WION Web Team Manchester May 21, 2020, 01.19 PM(IST)

Dead Sea Scroll contain Hebrew text Photograph:( Others )

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For decades, scientists have tried to gain a better understanding of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are some of the oldest versions of the Hebrew Bible and other religious texts.

For decades, it was believed that the fragments from the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls were blank. These were stored carefully at the University of Manchester, but only because such authentic fragments of the scrolls have been hard to come by.

However, it has been recently discovered that four out of 51 fragments actually have readable Hebrew/Aramaic text on them.

These fragments may have text related to the biblical book of Ezekiel (46:1-3), and only needed a special camera to see it.

"The most substantial fragment has the remains of four lines of text with 15-16 letters, most of which are only partially preserved, but the word Shabbat (Sabbath) can be clearly read," the University of Manchester said in a statement.

For decades, scientists have tried to gain a better understanding of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are some of the oldest versions of the Hebrew Bible and other religious texts. These texts date back to the time of Jesus, and can help in better understanding of these texts.

The discovery was recently made after decades as Professor Joan Taylor of King's College, London started examining the fragments for a new study. She photographed all these fragments using multispectral imaging after she thought that there was a slight possibility that one of the fragments contained a letter.

The process revealed text that was invisible to the naked eye.

"With new techniques for revealing ancient texts now available, I felt we had to know if these letters could be exposed. There are only a few on each fragment, but they are like missing pieces of a jigsaw puzzle you find under a sofa," she said in a statement.

In recent times, few Dead Sea Scroll fragments were proved fake. However, these had been excavated when the Dead Sea Scrolls were first discovered in the West Bank's Qumran Caves. These were later, in 1950, gifted by the Jordanian government to Ronald Reed, a leather expert at the University of Leeds. Ronald Reed published his findings, but did not report finding any text on these fragments.

These fragments were later donated to The University of Manchester in 1997, where they were preserved, but not being extensively researched upon, until recently.

More developments about this will be published in a report as the researchers continue their investigations.