Scientists decipher charred 1,500-year-old scroll

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Scientists Decipher Charred 1500-Year-Old Scroll

A 1,500-year-old Torah scroll burned beyond the point of unrolling or deciphering has been read using advanced digital imaging. The text researchers were able to reveal is from the Book of Leviticus and outlines the requirements for the preparation and offering of a sacrificial animal.

To make the ancient words visible required the assistance of cutting edge modern technology. The scroll was first scanned using a non-invasive X-ray tomography machine. That data was then processed through a virtual unwrapping program, which allowed the Hebrew text on individual pages to be isolated.

While the means used to read the scroll are significant, so is the find itself. The scroll was discovered during a 1970 excavation of the burned synagogue at Ein Gedi inside its Holy Ark. It was the first Torah scroll to ever be discovered inside such a building, particularly in a Holy Ark. It dates back to the 6th century, making it among the oldest biblical texts to ever be retrieved.

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1,500-year-old scroll deciphered
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Scientists decipher charred 1,500-year-old scroll
Lena Liebman the head of the conservation laboratory of the Israeli Antiquities Authorities measures a fragment of a burnt scroll at the Dead Sea scrolls laboratory in Jerusalem on July 20, 2015 after specialists, thanks to modern scanning technology, managed to decipher Hebrew text on the artifact, revealing that the scroll is believed to be a 1,500 year old copy of the beginning of the book of Leviticus. The Israel Antiquities Authority has been cooperating with scientists from Israel and abroad to preserve and digitize the scrolls which were discovered 45-years ago during archaeological excavations in Eid Gedi on the western shores of the Dead Sea. AFP PHOTO / GALI TIBBON (Photo credit should read GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images)
Lena Liebman the head of the Dead Sea scrolls laboratory at the conservation laboratory of the Israeli Antiquities Authorities in Jerusalem measures a fragment of a burnt scroll on July 20, 2015 after specialists, thanks to modern scanning technology, managed to decipher Hebrew text on the artifact, revealing that the scroll is believed to be a 1,500 year old copy of the beginning of the book of Leviticus. The Israel Antiquities Authority has been cooperating with scientists from Israel and abroad to preserve and digitize the scrolls which were discovered 45-years ago during archaeological excavations in Eid Gedi on the western shores of the Dead Sea. AFP PHOTO / GALI TIBBON (Photo credit should read GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images)
A screen shot shows the deciphered and original text of what is believed to be a 1,500 year old copy of the beginning of the book of Leviticus at the Dead Sea scrolls laboratory at the conservation laboratory of the Israeli Antiquities Authorities in Jerusalem after specialists, thanks to modern scanning technology, managed to decipher Hebrew writing on the artifact, revealing that the burnt Dead Sea scroll contained the text of ancient Torah verses. The Israel Antiquities Authority has been cooperating with scientists from Israel and abroad to preserve and digitize the scrolls which were discovered 45-years ago during archaeological excavations in Eid Gedi on the western shores of the Dead Sea. AFP PHOTO / GALI TIBBON (Photo credit should read GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images)
Lena Liebman the head of the Dead Sea scrolls laboratory at the conservation laboratory of the Israeli Antiquities Authorities in Jerusalem measures a fragment of a burnt scroll on July 20, 2015 after specialists, thanks to modern scanning technology, managed to decipher Hebrew text on the artifact, revealing that the scroll is believed to be a 1,500 year old copy of the beginning of the book of Leviticus. The Israel Antiquities Authority has been cooperating with scientists from Israel and abroad to preserve and digitize the scrolls which were discovered 45-years ago during archaeological excavations in Eid Gedi on the western shores of the Dead Sea. AFP PHOTO / GALI TIBBON (Photo credit should read GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images)
Lena Liebman the head of the Dead Sea scrolls laboratory at the conservation laboratory of the Israeli Antiquities Authorities in Jerusalem measures a fragment of a burnt scroll on July 20, 2015 after specialists, thanks to modern scanning technology, managed to decipher Hebrew text on the artifact, revealing that the scroll is believed to be a 1,500 year old copy of the beginning of the book of Leviticus. The Israel Antiquities Authority has been cooperating with scientists from Israel and abroad to preserve and digitize the scrolls which were discovered 45-years ago during archaeological excavations in Eid Gedi on the western shores of the Dead Sea. AFP PHOTO / GALI TIBBON (Photo credit should read GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images)
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