Research ArticleAPPLIED SCIENCES AND ENGINEERING

The Temple Scroll: Reconstructing an ancient manufacturing practice

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science Advances  06 Sep 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 9, eaaw7494
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw7494

Abstract

The miraculously preserved 2000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls, ancient texts of invaluable historical significance, were discovered in the mid-20th century in the caves of the Judean desert. The texts were mainly written on parchment and exhibit vast diversity in their states of preservation. One particular scroll, the 8-m-long Temple Scroll is especially notable because of its exceptional thinness and bright ivory color. The parchment has a layered structure, consisting of a collagenous base material and an atypical inorganic overlayer. We analyzed the chemistry of the inorganic layer using x-ray and Raman spectroscopies and discovered a variety of evaporitic sulfate salts. This points toward a unique ancient production technology in which the parchment was modified through the addition of the inorganic layer as a writing surface. Furthermore, understanding the properties of these minerals is particularly critical for the development of suitable conservation methods for the preservation of these invaluable historical documents.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

View Full Text