Virtual scanning software decoding ancient bible scrolls

A lump of coal, which was actually a burned 2,000-year-old scroll, was kept by an Israeli archaeologist for decades, until it was revealed thanks to the new scanning technology.

According to scholars, the passages of the Book of Leviticus (the third volume of the bible) provide the first physical evidence of long-standing faith: the version of the Hebrew Bible used today is 2,000 years old.

The discovery, published in the journal Science Advances by researchers from Kentucky (USA) and Jerusalem (Israel) on September 21, was made possible using the “open virtual scrolling (virtual unwrapping)” method. , 3D digital analysis of an X-ray scan. The researchers say this is the first time they have read the content on an ancient scroll without having to directly open it.

“You can hardly imagine the excitement in the lab,” said Dr. Pnina Shor from the Israel Antiquities Department, a member of the research team.

Technology that “reads” the delicate paper roll

The digital technology used in this discovery, with funding from Google and the US National Science Organization, is expected to be made available to the public as open source software by the end of next year.

The researchers hope to use this technology to reveal the content of ancient documents that are too fragile to be directly spread, such as some Dead Sea Scrolls and carbon-roll papyrus scrolls. chemical in the volcanic eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. They believe this technology can also be applied to forensic expertise, intelligence, and antiquity conservation.

The scrolls examined in this study were first discovered by archaeologists in 1970 at Ein Gedi, an ancient Jewish community site near the Dead Sea. Inside the chest of the canon at the ancient synagogue, archaeologists have found scrolls.

The cathedral was destroyed in an ancient fire, causing the scrolls to burn black. The arid climate in the area helps preserve them, but when archaeologists touch them, scrolls of scriptures will begin to decay. So these “charcoal” rolls have been abandoned for nearly half a decade, because no one knows what is inside.

Last year, Yosef Porath, an archaeologist who excavated at Ein Gedi in 1970, entered the laboratory to preserve the Dead Sea Scrolls in Jerusalem with many boxes of burnt scrolls, thanks to the homes. Study scan them. The lab has produced many high-resolution photographs of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the earliest known Bible copy ever.

“I looked at him at the time and said, ‘are you kidding’,” said Dr. Shor, head of the laboratory.

She agreed, and proceeded to CT scan a series of burned books. The results were then sent to Professor William Brent Seales, a researcher at the computer science department at the University of Kentucky (USA). Of the scrolls, only one can be decoded.

Using the “open virtual scroll” technology, he and his team carefully scanned the 3D shape of the layers in the scroll, using a digital triangular surface mesh to create a mock-up drawing of sets. department suspected of writing. They then looked for pixels showing signs of ink made from a heavy material like iron or lead. They then used a computer model to “flatten” the scroll, to read a few columns of text inside.

“Not only do the letters appear, they are readable,” GS Seales said. “At that time we were extremely happy.”

Assert a long-standing hypothesis

The researchers say this is the first time that a scroll of scriptures has been discovered inside the canonical box of the ancient synagogue. It was kept there for the believers, rather than in desert caves as in the case of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The new discovery is important because it helps scholars better understand the development of the Hebrew Bible, the researchers said.

In ancient times, there were many versions of the Hebrew Bible. The Dead Sea Scrolls, dating to the 3rd century BC, are a version that is vastly different from today’s version.

Scholars once believed that the standard form of the Hebrew Bible first appeared about 2,000 years ago, but there has never been real evidence until now, the study says. The oldest modern bible is known to date back to the 8th century.

The content of the Ein Gedi roll of the biblical scriptures has a “100% similarity” to the version of the Leviticus that has been used for centuries, according to researcher of the Dead Sea Book Gs Emanuel Tov from Hebrew University Institute. of Jerusalem. He is a research participant.

“It was amazing to us,” he said. “For [at least] 2,000 years, this text hasn’t changed.”

Dr. Noam Mizrahi, an expert on Dead Sea Scrolls at Tel Aviv University, called this an “extremely, extremely good discovery”. He said scanning technology has enormous potential to reveal more content inside Dead Sea Scrolls.

“What makes this discovery so interesting is not only what has been found, but also other things that promise to be discovered in the future,” said Dr. Mizrahi.

The US bill requires NASA to send people to Mars in the next 25 years

The U.S. Senate Committee that oversees NASA space projects passed a bipartisan bill that decided to spend $ 19.5 billion to send humans to Mars.

The bill also continues to support programs that send astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) from the United States before 2018. This shows that senators in both Republican and Democratic Party all care about protecting America’s space programs.

The NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2016 allows a total financial amount of $ 19.5058 billion for 2017, but it still needs to be passed by the Senate. The Obama administration is also expected to fund $ 19 billion for NASA.

The Senate does not spend money on NASA just to conduct exploration. This is really a challenge, a must.

The bill requires NASA to set an official goal: sending astronauts to Mars in the next 25 years.

The bill provides various component budgets: $ 4.5 billion for exploration, nearly $ 5 billion for space operations, and $ 5.4 billion for science. The bill also does not eliminate NASA’s controversial plan to send people to the asteroid and collect samples by 2021. However, the bill requires the space agency to regularly send progress reports. to Congress, to account for US $ 1.4 billion.

The support of the two Parties shows that both agree that space exploration is a very important thing, despite the fierce competition atmosphere of the Presidential election. Now we have to wait to see if the Senate passes this bill.