Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Digitally Unrolling the Ein Gedi Scroll of Leviticus

Ein Gedi scroll. (photo credit)
Yesterday, various news outlets reported the recent identification of Leviticus 1.1-8 in a charred scroll from Ein Gedi. First discovered in the 1970, the contents have been a mystery ever since. But with technology developed at the University of Kentucky, scholars were able to read the text by digitally “unrolling” it. The scroll has been carbon dated to the 6th century A.D.

I couldn’t find the full Hebrew text online, but there is a short write-up on the technology used to decipher the text. They also put together some videos of the process which are nicely done (see below).


Here’s the photo released by the IAA.

(photo credit)



  1. nice videos. How does the fire impact on the carbon dating? It would seem to offer a fair bit of contamination potential.

  2. Decontamination is always a part of carbon-14 dating. All you have to do is remove the outer layers, dating each layer until you get a consistent series of oldest dates.

  3. I think the idea here was not to unroll any layers - it is meant to be non-invasive technology to scan the roll without opening the roll.

  4. More info: http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/2/9/e1601247.full