The Dead Sea Scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls refer to ancient Hebrew scrolls that were accidentally discovered in 1947 by a Bedouin boy in the Judean Desert. On display today in the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, the scrolls have kindled popular enthusiasm as well as serious scholarly interest over the past half century as they reveal exciting history from the Second Temple period (520 B.C.E.-70 C.E.) – a time of crucial developments in the crystallization of the monotheistic religions.
The Dead Sea Scrolls theologian-historian turned to modern means of analysis :
A new method of handwriting analysis developed by researchers at the University of Groningen has suggested who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls. Testing of machine learning tools on one of the most famous ancient scrolls reveals that not one, but two scribes are behind the creation of the ancient text, Technews.bg reports.
The Dead Sea Scrolls, a so-called set of 981 different texts, were discovered in 1946–1956 near the ancient Palestinian village of Qumran. Texts produced between the 3rd century BC. and I century, are of great importance for history, religion and philology, as they contain the third oldest surviving manuscript of the Old Testament.
Known as the Great Scroll of Isaiah, it was one of the first Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in 1946. It is one of the largest and best-preserved scrolls of all, representing the oldest known complete copy of the Book of Isaiah.
Exactly how many authors wrote this text, as well as the other Dead Sea Scrolls, has been a subject of heated debate in religious and academic circles. To try to find the answer, theologian-historian Mladen Popovic turned to modern tools of analysis – artificial intelligence.
Popovich chose the Great Scroll of Isaiah for his team’s first assignment because it was impressively finished, consisting of 17 sheets of parchment, New Atlas report. This particular scroll has a relatively uniform handwriting, implying that it is the work of a single author, although several scholars have suggested that it may have been the work of at least two authors who had similar handwriting and writing style.
To determine how many hands wrote the scroll, the researchers grouped the use of the Hebrew letter “aleph”. The same letter occurs over 5,000 times in the Great Scroll of Isaiah. Popovich suggests that human eyes are limited in their ability to notice small differences in handwriting styles.
Using multiple recognition techniques, the study revealed a change in handwriting patterns starting in the middle of the manuscript. In the past, some scholars have suggested that the Great Scroll of Isaiah was the work of two different scribes – this new evidence confirms the theory.
“We can now confirm this with quantitative handwriting analysis as well as robust statistical analysis,” Popovic explained. “With intelligent computer assistance, instead of relying on judging more or less impressionistic evidence, we can prove that there is a statistically significant difference.”
In a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE, Popovic and his team confirm that writing was a two-person job. Significant similarities in the handwriting between the two scribes on the Great Scroll of Isaiah point to interesting ideas about how the Dead Sea Scrolls came into being.
The fact that two different scribes contributed to the same manuscript with strikingly similar handwriting probably suggests the same school or family environment behind the creation of the scrolls.
The similarity in the handwriting of various scribes may indicate that they attended the same school with the same teacher. Or they may have been close “in another social way,” such as in a familial context, such as being siblings or father and son, the researchers said.
The applied handwriting analysis technique demonstrated in the study offers scientists entirely new ways to study ancient manuscripts. Further work may focus on further investigation of the Dead Sea Scrolls and build on this discovery to shed light on who wrote the documents.
“This is very exciting because it opens a new window to the ancient world, which may reveal more complex relationships between the authors who created the scrolls,” Popovic said. “In our study, we found evidence of a similar writing style shared by the two scribes of the Great Scroll of Isaiah, suggesting common training or origins. Our next step is to locate other scrolls where we can identify different origins or origins.” Get scribe training.” ,