Qumran cave 4, in which ninety percent of the scrolls were found. (courtesy of Wikimedia)
Google paired with the Israel Antiquities Authority to publish the entirety of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The scrolls, primarily discovered in the 1940′s, are documents of both historical and religious significance. The scrolls, which date to the fourth and fifth centuries CE, are the earliest surviving copies of biblical and peri-biblical documents in existence.
“The Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Library offers an exceptional encounter with antiquity. Using the world’s most advanced imaging technology, the Digital Library preserves thousands of scrolls fragments, including the oldest known copies of biblical texts, now accessible to the public for the first time.” — Statement on the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Library website.
Visitors can browse the collection by geography (archaeological site at which they were found), language (my Aramaic is a bit rusty I must admit), or by topic (scripture, history, etc). The collection includes detailed information on the history and provenance of the texts.
A recent find by archaeologists during a tomb exploration in Jerusalem uncovered what could be the earliest archaeological evidence for Christianity in Jerusalem. One ossuary, an object similar to a coffin or sarcophagus, contains a four line Greek Inscription that refers to God “raising up” someone. An ossuary next to it depicts an inscription of an individual in the mouth of a large fish – perhaps a reference to the Biblical figure Jonah, akin to other examples of early Christian art.
The ossuaries have been sent to the Israeli State Collection and are waiting authentication. If the ossuaries prove to be authentic (there are many fakes, most famous the Jesus Ossuary and the James Brother of Jesus Ossuary), then they would represent (by centuries) the earliest evidence for Christianity. The objects would predate the gospels by centuries.
Internet giant Google has enabled scholars to post a chunk of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the most important documents to Biblical scholars aside from the Old and New testaments. The announcement has generated a great deal of excitement amongst professional and lay scholars alike – providing ready access to the materials to the public for free.
Biblical scholarship and archaeology is all a twitter (literally and figuratively) over a new ossuary authentication as belonging to the family of Caiaphas. The full inscription reads: ”Miriam daughter of Yeshua son of Caiaphus, priest of Maaziah from Beth Imri.”
Ossuary forgeries are common place in Israel and, especially with the recent high profile case of the “Ossuary of James,” professional antiquities dealers, collectors, and scholars are often hesitant to identify historically relevant boxes. Still, Profesor Goren of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Archaeology feels confident of its identity.
To learn more about this finding, read the full article at Science Daily.
The Holy Sepulchre is one of the most revered location in all of early Christian History. It is recognized by many Christians as the site of the resurrection of Christ. A virtual 3D tour has been produced by 360tr (an organization in Turkey). It’s an excellent piece. You can view different areas of the church and surrounding area, pan, zoom, and examine from different angles. Check it out here.
The Hagia Sophia (in Greek Ἁγία Σοφία) is one of the most famous churches in all of Christendom. Prior to the building of Saint Peters in Rome, it was the Christian church. The current iteration built by the Emperor Justinian in the 7th century served as the center for Christendom until its fall to the Muslim Turks in the 15th century. For 500 years, it served as a mosque until Atatürk turned it into a state museum.
The Hagia Sophia is one of the greatest landmarks in history and merits an extensive visit. In fact, I spent 24 hours on a train from Romania to Istanbul just for the opportunity to walk through its halls and visit its famed dome. However, travel is a bit extensive. Here is an exceptional 3D, interactive tour of the Hagia Sophia. Don’t worry about the Greek on the website (unless you happen to know modern Greek). The information in the tour itself is actually english. You can pan, zoom, turn, examine close-ups, etc. It takes a minute to load, so be patient! If you really enjoy Byzantine history, I highly recommend that you follow @Byzantinephil on Twitter