NASA imaging technology reveals ‘hidden script’ in Dead Sea Scrolls

Rob Waugh
Tourists look at portions of the Dead Sea scrolls on display at the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem (PIcture Getty)

Experts have used NASA imaging technology to reveal ‘hidden script’ invisible to the naked eye in the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, unearthed in the Judean desert in the 50s.

The ‘hidden’ letters were found by Oren Ableman at the Israel Antiquities Authority, scanning thousands of tiny fragments, many of which had not previously been analysed.

The famous scrolls were uncovered near the Dead Sea between 1946 and 1956.

The Scrolls contained versions of many Biblical texts – including books which were not canonised in the Hebrew Bible, such as ‘Jubilees’.

One of the new fragments hints at the existence of another, previously unknown, manuscript.

Researchers inspected some fragments which had never been analysed before (Stock image) (Getty)

The Scrolls consist of tens of thousands of fragments of parchment and papyrus which are thought to belong to up to 1,000 different manuscripts.

Some of these had never been analysed, but analysis with imaging technology showed off script thought to belong to the books of Deuteronomy and Leviticus.


An Israeli Antiquities Authority spokesman said, ‘Due to their small size and precarious physical state, some of these fragments were placed in boxes without being sorted or deciphered.

‘Recently, as part of the Scrolls’ digitization project sample examinations were conducted among these boxes.

‘The identification of new letters and words provides new data for the study of the scrolls. One of the fragments may even indicate the existence of a hitherto unknown manuscript.’