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Dead Sea Scrolls offer immortality

04 August 2011

by Ed Thornton

THE Friends of the Israel Anti­quities Authority (FIAA), which is the custodian of nearly 15,000 frag­ments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, is asking people to pay to “adopt” a fragment of scroll so that it can be restored and conserved. The fragments on offer include the Genesis scroll and the Leviticus scroll.

A statement on the FIAA website says: “The cost of conserving and preserving a Dead Sea Scroll ranges be­tween $1,500-$2,000 for the smaller and medium-size frag­ments, and up to $50,000 for the largest. . . The contribution will help us in our efforts to save, protect, publish and exhibit the most im­portant universal cultural heritage collection.” (www.archaeology.org)

It says that a “dedication plaque bearing the donor’s name” will be displayed next to the scroll, “and the donor’s name will for ever be men­tioned in publications or exhibi­tions referring to the adopted scroll.”

The executive director of the FIAA, Jacob Fisch, said: “The scheme is designed to raise money for conservation, cleaning, and high-resolution photography of the scrolls. . . It’s like people adopting animals from a zoo — they are more likely to want a lion than an ant. We will work with people’s budgets to find them something — there are 15,000 fragments to pick from.”

Scrolls findings. A researcher at the University of Manchester said this week that an obscure Babylonian document in the Dead Sea Scrolls was probably a precursor to the Jewish calendar.

Dr Helen Jacobus investigated the Babylonian text known as Qumran scroll 4Q318. “This ancient tract can be still used as a functioning lunar zodiac calendar, which was a precursor to the Jewish calendar of today,” Dr Jacobus said.

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