AI analysis shows two scribes wrote among the Dead Sea Scrolls

Artificial intelligence has helped to solve a long-standing mystery regarding the Dead Sea Scrolls. The technology confirms that one of the ancient manuscripts – the Great Isaiah Scroll – was penned by two scribes who wrote with virtually identical handwriting, rather than being the consequence of an individual person’s work.

The Dead Sea Scrolls certainly are a set of ancient Hebrew manuscripts comprising Biblical and Jewish texts, within caves near the Dead Sea in the mid-20th century.

The Great Isaiah scroll is a copy of the Book of Isaiah that is found in both Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament. The copy was completed around the next century BC, and is written using the Hebrew alphabet.

“Prior to the discovery of the scrolls, we practically only had medieval manuscripts from the entire year 1000 [for studying the first history of the text]. These Dead Sea Scrolls are such as a time machine,” says Mladen Popović at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

Read more: DNA analysis sheds new light on ancient biblical Dead Sea Scrolls

“They allow us to visit way back in time, even to enough time that the Hebrew Bible was still being written. So, the scrolls provide us with a distinctive vantage point to study the culture behind what became the Bible.”

Scholars weren’t previously in a position to determine if the Great Isaiah Scroll was the task of just one single or several scribes for the reason that handwriting was very similar throughout the a lot more than 7-metre-long parchment scroll.

Popović and his colleagues utilised artificial intelligence to analyse digital images of the manuscript to determine whether one individual wrote the scroll or if multiple people with similar handwriting worked on it together, looking closely at variation in the condition and design of the letters that can’t be spotted easily by the eye. They found that the scroll was sectioned off into two halves, each compiled by a different scribe.

“Portion of the reason artificial intelligence research was had a need to allow the authors of the groundbreaking study to verify the identification of two different scribes, is that both hands are rather similar and may be compatible with an individual scribe who changed his pen,” says Charlotte Hempel at the University of Birmingham in the united kingdom.

“The authors also start the fascinating question of whether this level of affinity between the scribal hands points to a stellar professional, in a position to ‘match’ another hand or whether we are coping with a shared scribal training environment,” says Hempel.

Future analysis of the rest of the Dead Sea Scrolls could reveal more about the scribes, says Popović.

Journal reference: PLoS One , DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0249769

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  • artificial intelligence
  • religion

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