Artificial Intelligence Allows for New Insights into the Dead Sea Scrolls

May 4, 2021 | Biblical Archaeology Society
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Using cutting-edge computer technology, scientists from a Dutch university have analyzed the handwriting in one of the ancient texts discovered in the Judean desert nearly a century ago. The Biblical Archaeology Society reports:

A recent computer analysis of handwriting from the Great Isaiah Scroll—one of the longest and best preserved of the Dead Sea Scrolls—found the 54-column text was produced by two different scribes who apparently worked in shifts to complete the task.

[R]esearchers from the University of Groningen used artificial intelligence to train their computers to detect minute differences in the shape, styling, and curvature of the thousands of letters written on the scroll parchment. Although the styles of the letters appear nearly identical to the naked eye, the AI analysis revealed the work of two distinct scribal hands, with the second scribe taking over from the first about midway through the manuscript. Given the close similarity in penmanship, the researchers believe the two scribes likely received the same training or were even peers within the same scribal school.

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