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 Virtual Qumran Sheds New Light On Dead Sea Scrolls Discovery Site

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Date posted: 21/06/2007

UCLA researchers Robert R. Cargill and William M. Schniedewind have created a virtual reality immersive rendered model of the mysterious archaeological ruins located paces from where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered 60 years ago. They believe it resolves all controversies surrounding the site, by using reverse modelling to recreate it as it originally was, based on how the ruins are today.

"Qumran was established originally as a fortress, just as the archaeological evidence shows, and then it was abandoned," said Robert R. Cargill, a UCLA graduate student in Near Eastern Culture and Languages. "It was later resettled by the Essenes, an early Jewish religious community that came from Jerusalem, bringing with them the scrolls and continuing to copy and compose new scrolls."

"Once you put all the archaeological evidence into three dimensions, the solution literally jumps out at you," said Schniedewind, the project's principle investigator.

The scholars hope their Qumran Visualisation Project, slated to go on view June 29 at the San Diego Natural History Museum as part of the largest public exhibition of the scrolls ever mounted, will resolve the conflict surrounding the history and evolution of the West Bank site.

"We felt it was of the utmost important to allow the archaeological remains to speak for themselves," said Schniedewind. "So we decided to follow the evidence in modelling the site, no matter where it would lead. In attempting to reconstruct many of the suggestions made by scholars over the years, we found that many were simply not possible architecturally. But when half of the elements were taken from each of the competing theories and added to each other, the most plausible -- and buildable -- explanation emerged."

The computer model was built over the course of 15 months using MultiGen Creator, a powerful modelling tool known for producing fully interactive real-time models. Photographs of wood grains, plasters and soil at Qumran and other similar sites throughout the Middle East provide the model's texture. The model includes virtual recreations of oil lights, ink wells, pottery and other actual artefacts discovered throughout Qumran.

A series of high-resolution panoramic photographs of the sky, the cliffs to the west of the site, the Dead Sea and the plains of Jordan to the east were grafted together in PhotoShop to illustrate Qumran's surroundings. The project's architects eventually plan to replace the panoramic photography with satellite imagery, which will allow them to virtually simulate the surrounding topography and terrain. Plans also call for virtual models of the caves where the scrolls were found.

See the full Story via external site: www.sciencedaily.com

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