Roger L. Easton, Jr.
revised 25 June 2006 (in Delhi, India)
Mar Athanasius Samuel Fragments:

In 1997, Dr. Robert Johnston arranged with Dr. James Charlesworth of Princeton Theological Seminary for us to image several fragments of the original cache of Dead Sea Scrolls, which were discovered near Qumran in 1947. The original scrolls were purchased by Mar Athanasius Samuel, who was the Syrian Orthodox Archbishop in Jerusalem in 1947. He kept several fragments and bequeathed them to the Syrian Orthodox Cathedral in Teaneck, NJ, where they were in the custody of Father John Peter Meno. The fragments are encased between sheets of glass and thus may not be imaged using ultraviolet light.

We took Bob's first-generation Kodak DCS-100 digital camera to the library of the seminary. The resolution of this camera is only 1280 ×1024 8-bit monochrome pixels (1.3 Megapixels), which limited the size of the area that could be imaged. Father Meno brought the fragments from Teaneck. As shown in the images, portions of the parchment in each fragment were darkened by damage and difficult or impossible to read. Happily, the reflectance of the darkened parchment increases as the wavelength is increased. By using an infrared-transmitting filter (centered about approximately 800 nm) over the camera lens, the contrast of the text in the damaged region is restored.

Click on each icon for a larger image:

Father Meno and Jim Charlesworth   Father Meno and Jim Charlesworth examine one of the fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Dr. Charlesworth points to the darkened region of the fragment

DSS_crew   Sitting from left to right, Bob Johnston and me. Standing, Keith Knox and Jim Charlesworth

Visible Appearance of Fragment  Visual appearance of second fragment  Visual appearance of fragments

Appearance through camera at Infrared wavelengths  IR Appearance  Appearances at near-infrared wavelengths, showing improved contrast between ink and parchment in damaged region.

George Brooke  George Brooke Transcription  Brooke Transcription  George Brooke of Manchester University identified that the fragments were the lyrics of a previously unknown hymn for a harvest festival. This was shown in the program "Traders of the Dead Sea Srolls," shown on the Learning Channel in 1999











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