Google announcement today:

It’s taken 24 centuries, the work of archaeologists, scholars and historians, and the advent of the Internet to make the Dead Sea Scrolls accessible to anyone in the world. Today, as the new year approaches on the Hebrew calendar, we’re celebrating the launch of the Dead Sea Scrolls online; a project of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem powered by Google technology.

I spent a couple of weeks in Israel and Jordan during the summer of 2008 with 28 other students and a couple of our professors from Ouachita Baptist University. During the first week we started our trip near the Sea of Galilee, spending our nights on one of its beaches.

Sea of Galilee morning beach

We left the Galilee region and drove about four hours to Qumran, the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.

Qumran - Dead Sea beach

Qumran Archeological Site

In 1947 a collection of ancient Jewish scriptures were discovered throughout several caves in the area. A Jewish sect called Essenes devoted themselves to the scriptures and occupied the caves long ago.

The most significant portions of the DSS were discovered in Cave 11, and it’s the cave you’ll see most often associated with Qumran and the 1947 discovery of the scrolls.

JG by Cave 11

Qumran - Cave 11

Dead Sea Scrolls potter

The actual scrolls are kept at The Jewish Museum in Jerusalem, but replica’s are displayed at the museum in Qumran.

Dead Sea Scroll replica

And of course we went swimming in the Dead Sea… except for that you just float. If you’ve ever gone swimming in the ocean then you know it tastes pretty bad when that salt water gets in your mouth, and the ocean is only 3% salt content. The Dead Sea is 33%. It didn’t take long ‘til I was out of there.

Dead Sea floaters