Monday, November 15, 2010

New X-Ray Analysis of Dead Sea Scrolls

From Earth Times:

This week, Berlin scientists are to brief scholars on 21st century methods of sorting the fragments, which contain Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic writing and are kept at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

The new methods, which include shining X-rays through the parchment and papyrus, are guaranteed not to damage them.

Re-analysis would not only help to resolve some fierce academic and religious disputes that have been based on differing readings of the texts, but also help reconstruct several more documents which had seemed lost for ever in the muddle of fragments.

The new methods were evolved by BAM, Germany's material-science laboratory in Berlin.

"We'll be able to say if any two fragments have identical material properties," explained BAM spokeswoman Ulrike Rockland. "If they do, they come from the same piece. No one could say that with certainty before."

[...]

These include examination with light, electron and environmental scanning electron microscopes and advanced technologies known as X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy and Raman spectroscopy.

The experts devised standard ways to trace how each piece of parchment was made and how it aged.

"Goatskin is an organic material. If two fragments have the same X-ray, Raman and infrared signature, they must belong together," said Rockland.

The procedures can also identify different batches of handmade ink. The scientists manufactured their own iron-gall ink using ancient recipes to test what happens as it dries and eats its way into the parchment.

The sole disadvantage of the new tests is the high cost.

The full story is here.

HT: Joe Lauer

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2 Comments:

  • Readers may be interested in the two-day program calendar for the "Archaeometry of the Dead Sea Scrolls" conference (Nov. 15–16, 2010) at the BAM Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing, Berlin, Germany. A PDF is at http://orion.mscc.huji.ac.il/resources/doc/Workshop_NiKe.pdf Also of interest may be a PDF of the nine-page "Material Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls" at http://www1.uni-hamburg.de/COMST/Rabin_DSS.pdf, and a press release of the Art Innovation company regarding the workshop and its products at http://www.art-innovation.nl/event.php?id=4 Linked items related to the Dead Sea Scrolls are at http://www.sciencebuzz.org/kiosks/deadseascrolls (in the right column).

    By Anonymous Joseph I. Lauer, at Mon Nov 15, 04:18:00 PM  

  • I've made my own iron-gall ink, using red wine as a base. The best batch had some added black mold from an old henhouse- that really improved the color density and the flow in the pen.

    By Blogger nazani, at Wed Dec 22, 10:57:00 AM  

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