Preservation of the Dead Sea Scrolls
It has recently been established that different parchment-production methods were in use in the Eastern and Western regions during the Hellenistic period. In this project, we will use micro-sampling to establish a protocol for distinguishing between a typically Eastern and typically Western parchment production. By presenting scholars with a simple method of analysis, the cultural origin of the writing support will become an important additional criterion for scrolls classification. Physical criteria to corroborate textual and paleographic criteria are urgently needed in historical research on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Identifying the preparation techniques of ancient parchments is equally important for conservation purposes since preserving the Scrolls relies upon an understanding of how the skins have been chemically and physically altered in the production process. In this regard, this project closely cooperates with project RFA04 in the research field Artefact Profiling and its analyses of animal types used for parchment-making during distinct periods in Europe. It is hoped that in the future the new micro-sampling methods will be an added tool in the investigative work to reconstruct the history of the post-discovery treatment and handling of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The project will be conducted in cooperation with the Shrine of the Book of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.