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Google unfurls Dead Sea Scrolls

Ancient rantings scanned to 1,200MP

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As if there weren't enough strange rantings on the internet already, Google has just uploaded five of the Dead Sea Scrolls in super high resolution.

Of course, the Dead Sea Scrolls are strange rantings that – unlike your average YouTube contribution – are of great historic and religious significance. The scrolls were written 2,400 years ago by a desert-dwelling Jewish tribe, and recount important passages from the Old Testament as well other passages that aren't included in the Bible. Over 850 of them were discovered in 11 caves along the West Bank and are the oldest known surviving copies of Biblical and extra-biblical documents.

The five scrolls that will be uploaded by Google are: The Book of Isaiah, the War Scroll, the Temple Scroll, the Commentary on Habbukuk Scroll and the Community Rule Scroll.

The rolls of parchment and papyrus are available to everyone on the website of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. A Google-powered window allows you to, er, scroll over an image of the parchment, and – in the case of the Isaiah scroll – click on a section of text to call up an English translation of the segment. Better yet, Google has indexed the book, meaning that the text will come up in Google results if you search something like "Book of Isaiah: Woe unto the wicked! It shall be ill with him, for the work of his hands shall be done to him."

That's verse 3:11, if you're wondering.

"The high resolution photographs, taken by Ardon Bar-Hama, are up to 1,200 megapixels, almost 200 times more than the average consumer camera," Google explains on its blog, "so viewers can see even the most minute details in the parchment. For example, zoom in on the Temple Scroll to get a feel for the animal skin it's written on — only one-tenth of a millimeter thick." ®

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