The Friends of Israel Antiquities Authority announced Monday that it is giving people the chance to adopt pages of the Dead Sea Scrolls for about $2,000.
The announcement promotes the Friends of Israel Antiquities Authority’s efforts to raise funds for the conservation of the ancient texts, and for the project to digitalize them.
Adoptees will receive a dedication plaque with their name on it displayed wherever the texts are exhibited.
The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947 on the West Bank in Qumran when a Bedouin tribesman fell into a cave where they had been hidden for 2,000 years. They are between 800-1,000 years older than previously-known manuscripts. The texts have resulted in hundreds of books and theories about early Christianity as well as the life of Jesus.
There are more than 15,000 Dead Sea Scrolls, written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek between 150BC and 70AD. The parchment and papyrus writings are among the most famous in the world. The sacred texts include the oldest written record of the Old Testament ever found.
Jacob Fische, of the Friends of Israel Antiquities Authority in New York, said the system would raise money specifically to clean and photograph the scrolls.
“We want to conserve all the scrolls and eventually put them online, and digitization is part of a multi-stage project. Most people who sign up want a medium fragment,” Fische said. “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 to pick from. People love the idea of adopting a chapter from Leviticus or Deuteronomy,” Fische said, according to the Daily Mail.
Professor Yossi Matias, director of Google-Israel Research and Development Center, expects the material to be available online “relatively fast” and as soon as they get the content.
The first stages of the project will be available online within a few months, and completed within the next five years.