No site da IAA - Israel Antiquities Authority - na seção "Press Office", com data de 27 de agosto de 2008, se lê:
The Dead Sea Scrolls Go Digital
The Dead Sea Scrolls will once again be revealed. Two thousand years ago hundreds of scrolls, which include the oldest written record of the Old Testament ever found, were buried in the caves of the Judean Desert. Now, sixty years after the fortuitous discovery of the first scrolls by Bedouin shepherds, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), to whom they are entrusted and who diligently strives to preserve them, has decided to provide researchers and the public worldwide access to them. In a press conference that took place this morning in Jerusalem (August 27), the IAA presented a pilot program that is being conducted this week, involving the imaging of the Dead Sea Scrolls, using the latest in digital cameras. The project will involve the documentation of all of the thousands of Dead Sea Scrolls fragments belonging to about 900 manuscripts, and placing them in an internet data bank that will be available to the public. This will be accomplished by imaging the scrolls in color and infrared which allow, among other things, the reading of scores of scroll fragments that were blackened or ostensibly erased over the years and which were not visible to the naked eye until now. The pilot project is examining the means that were selected for imaging and storing the information, and is also estimating the amount of time and resources necessary for implementing a project such as this. Participating in the pilot project together with the IAA staff are international experts in the fields of imaging technologies and the management of large image databases, amongst them Dr. Greg Bearman recently retired as Principal Scientist from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA, Simon Tanner, Director, King’s Digital Consultancy Services, Dr Julia Craig-Mc-Feely, a manuscript expert photographer, and Tom Lianza, Director of Motion Picture and Television Technologies, X-rite Incorporated. Dr. Bearman has previously worked with the IAA and other national libraries on imaging of ancient texts, his group pioneered the application of modern digital electronic and spectral imaging to archeological artifacts. Simon Tanner has worked with some of the rarest artifacts around the world and helped numerous digital projects to succeed in delivering public and scholarly access to their treasures. Dr Craig-McFeely is Director of the Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music and is internationally renowned for her excellence in the digital photography of manuscript materials. Tom Lianza has extensive experience in color and imaging. He is one of the early pioneers in the field of Color Management and developed some of the earliest digital flatbed color scanners. As part of the pilot program the experts set up three separate imaging stations in a sealed and specially painted gray room: a high resolution color imager that will capture the current state of the fragments; a high resolution single wavelength infrared imager that will provide significantly increased legibility to the texts in general and of fragments that have deteriorated and have become illegible; a spectral imager with lower spatial resolution that covers the red and infrared portions of the spectrum. Spectral imaging will be used on fragments to monitor any changes in the manuscripts by measuring and monitoring their spectral reflectance...
O texto diz ainda:
The thousands of scroll fragments were photographed in their entirety only once, at the time of their discovery in the 1950s. Scholarly research and publication are largely based on these infra-red photographs, although the images represent the condition of the scrolls some fifty years ago, and even the best of them rely on photographic technology that has since been surpassed. Moreover, some of the images have themselves disintegrated. Since its foundation the IAA Dead Sea Scrolls conservation lab has limited photography to essential documentation and specific requests of images for research and publication. Thus, there is a gap in the detailed image information available to scholars, as well as a lack of an active image record that can be used to assist in the conservation efforts. The IAA initiated the digitization project in its effort to monitor the well-being of the scrolls, and to expand access to scholars and the public worldwide, while preventing further damage from physical exposure. To this end, in November 2007 the IAA convened an international committee of experts for the purpose of evaluating the most advanced imaging technologies and the management of large databases. The committee set a series of goals and objectives for the documentation and imaging project including: spectral imaging to improve monitoring for long term preservation in a non-invasive and precise manner; creating both a high resolution colour and an infra-red image of every fragment that is equal in physical quality to the scroll fragments which will thereby prevent any need to re-expose them; and documentation that will facilitate easy and uniform access to a data bank of all the manuscripts which, as previously mentioned , are composed of thousands of fragments.
Leia a notícia completa no site da IAA.
Como se vê é um projeto que prevê a digitalização dos milhares de fragmentos dos cerca de 900 manuscritos encontrados a partir de 1947 nas proximidades do Mar Morto - daí a sigla e o nome em inglês: DSS ou Dead Sea Scrolls [Manuscritos do Mar Morto]. Os Manuscritos formarão um banco de dados na Internet para acesso online.
Mas esta é uma tarefa complexa e demorada, por isso, certamente, o texto da IAA nem fala em datas. Por ser um projeto bastante amplo e sofisticado, envolverá, além da IAA, cientistas e técnicos de várias instituições especializadas na área, o que inclui desde peritos em fotografia de manuscritos até um cientista que trabalhou para a NASA.
Agradeço a Antonio Lombatti e a Jim West [blog desativado, link perdido], onde, hoje, descobri o Comunicado à Imprensa (Press Release) da IAA.
Manuscritos do Mar Morto - várias postagens no Observatório Bíblico
Os Essênios: a Racionalização da Solidariedade - artigo na Ayrton's Biblical Page