The Dead Sea Scrolls are considered to be the most significant archeological find of the 20th century. But only a select few scholars and archeologists have had access to the ancient documents.
Now thanks to digital technology, some of the scrolls are available to anyone with a computer. Monday, Google and the Israel Museum launched an online exhibit of the world famous scrolls, called the Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Project.
"Users from all over the world can examine and explore this ancient biblical manuscript at a level of detail never possible before," said Eyal Miller, head of new business development at Google Israel.
"This is actually a part of a wider Google initiative to bring the world information and cultural heritage online," he added.
This is the first time many of the scrolls, which date from the third century BC to the first century AD, have been seen since they were discovered in 1947.
The parchment of the ancient scrolls is so fragile that handling them would cause them to disintegrate into dust. The digital project, however, preserves the documents.
The scrolls include the oldest known biblical text, religious manuscripts that are not included in the Bible, and information about daily Jewish life in Israel.
Viewers of the online exhibit can zoom in and out on a scroll and click on areas of the Hebrew text to get an English translation.
"The technology and the technological capability of an enterprise like Google is for us a very simple way to get our content to the widest possible audience worldwide," Israel Museum Director James Snyder explained.
"And again, it's in order to allow for a deepened understanding and appreciation of what material culture is about, so that when you experience it first hand, you really have confidence in your knowledge of the material that you are looking at and experiencing," he added.
The five scrolls currently on display are from the Israel Museum. But Google is also working with the Israel Antiquities Authority, who holds another large collection of the Dead Sea manuscripts.