Dead Sea scrolls' parchment was made locally

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Washington, July 21 (ANI): Proton beam analysis of a Dead Sea scroll reveals its chemistry matches that of the water in the area where the ancient document was found, suggesting its parchment was manufactured locally.

New research carried out at the labs of the Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN) in Catania, Sicily, suggests that the 28-foot-long Temple Scroll was made in Qumran, in what is now Israel, in the same area on the Dead Sea coast where the faded parchments were recovered from caves nearly half a century ago.

The scrolls, a collection of about 900 highly fragmented documents, include the earliest written texts of the Bible and are more than two millennia old. In addition to the biblical texts, the scrolls are filled with apocryphal material and sectarian writings, dating back to between 100-200 B.C. to 70 A.D.

Written as if God, himself, is speaking, the Temple Scroll contains detailed instructions on the building of a temple and prescribes how laws are to be communicated to the people.

"We selected the fragments from the Temple Scroll because they were the cleanest, and would make our analysis easier," Discovery News quoted INFN physicist Giuseppe Pappalardo, as saying.

Pappalardo and colleagues examined seven centimetre-sized fragments of the scroll using a new portable technique called "XPIXE" (X-ray and Particle Induced X-ray emission) and a particle accelerator.

Pappalardo, who developed the XPIXE technology, said: "Basically, we concentrated on water. Like most of the other parchments, the Temple Scroll was made from animal skin, thus its production required extensive washing. Our goal was to compare and possibly find a match between the chemistry of the scroll and the very peculiar chemistry of the water from the area where the parchments were found."

First, the scroll fragments were bombarded with alpha-particles and X-rays from the portable XPIXE device, and then with proton beams produced by a particle accelerator.

The X-rays emitted by the samples demonstrated that all of the fragments contained chlorine and that the ratio of chlorine to bromine within the Temple Scroll fragments was about three times higher than is normally found in sea water. This led the researchers to conclude that the scroll may have been made from the very salty Dead Sea water.

Pappalardo said: "Our study focused on the parchment, we still don't know where the scroll was written. We are now planning to analyse the ink." (ANI)

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