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After 2000 Years, Dead Sea Scrolls to Go Online

It only took a couple of thousand years, but people the world over will soon be able to have a close-up look at one of the greatest archaeological finds of the last century. Earlier today Google and Israel's Antiquities Authority announced plans to collaborate on a project to make the Dead Sea Scrolls available both to scholars and the general public over the Internet.

Partial view taken 17 May 2005 shows the 3.60-metre-long Dead Sea Temple Scroll presented in a major new exhibition of Jewish art and artifacts called “The New Hebrews, 100 years of art in Israel,” organized by the Israel Museum in Jerusalem at Berlin’s Martin Gropius Bau exhibition hall to mark 40 years of diplomatic ties between Israel and Germany. The Temple Scroll, which is being shown outside Israel for the first time, is one of the longest biblical texts found since the 1940s.  Michael Kappeler/AFP/Getty Images

This is quite the big deal. A portion of the scrolls were first rediscovered in the late 1940s. But they have rarely been accessible to a wide public as issues over control prevented wide dissemination beyond a relatively small number of scholars.

Speaking with CNN, the IAI's director, Shuka Dorfman, said the project will help advance the state of biblical studies and further the understanding of Judaism and early Christianity. "We have succeeded in recruiting the best minds and technological means to preserve this unrivaled cultural heritage treasure, which belongs to all of us, so that the public with a click of the mouse will be able to access history in its fullest glamor," he said.

By the time the project gets completed - it's expected to last a couple of years - the last remaining barriers to mass public viewing will disappear - assuming that you've got an Internet connection, of course.

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