Jan
21
2010

Removing plant oil: Ok, she isnt removing plant oil from a Dead Sea Scroll, but this is how I imagine it would look when they eventually do.
Removing plant oil: Ok, she isnt removing plant oil from a Dead Sea Scroll, but this is how I imagine it would look when they eventually do.Courtesy Walters Art Museum
The Dead Sea Scrolls have been radiocarbon dated two different times since they were discovered (excludiing the test on a piece of linen associated with the scrolls in the 1950’s by Willard Libby(the guy who invented the radiocarbon dating method)) by the Zurich Institute of Technology (1990) and the University of Arizona (1994). From these tests, researchers concluded that the scrolls are roughly 2,000 years old. However, scientists now think they can take “roughly” out of the picture, and provide more precise dates for the origins of the scrolls.

How would they do this? Is there a brand new method used for dating ancient objects?! Umm…no. Scientists will still use carbon-14 dating, but they found that a good ol’ scrub before the dating process provides better results (that usually holds true for people, too). I don’t mean that they’ll use soap and water (that would probably not be a good idea), but rather a chemical to remove plant residue. What happened was that in order to unroll the scrolls and spread them out without pulverizing them, researchers treated the scrolls with plant oil. This oil is thought to have interfered with the carbon-14 dating.

But now, after more than ten years of lab work, archaeochemist Kaare Lund Rasmussen and his team of researchers have developed a chemical that will remove the plant oil without harming the scrolls themselves. With this residue gone, the Dead Sea Scrolls can be more precisely dated, and history can be more accurately written (if you subscribe to the “accuracy” of history). At this point, there has been no new round of tests on the scrolls, and it’s unclear when that will take place.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

brendan .d.smith's picture
brendan .d.smith says:

why are the dead sea scrolls so important? what are you going to do with them?Do you know what they say and what do you know about them?

posted on Tue, 03/30/2010 - 3:06pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

They are so important because they are the first written ways of the bible. They are going to preserve them and translate them so everyone of all languages can read them. They say that it is the old testimate not the new testimate so they are translating the new testimate to show what the first copies said in the bible.

posted on Mon, 06/28/2010 - 4:38pm
Andrew August Perrine's picture
Andrew August Perrine says:

Why are the dead sea scrolls so important? they offer invaluable insights of the time period. Differences in cultural backgrounds, religions, historical happenins are all recorded on these dying scrolls. What are we going to do with them? We will learn from them, not only of what they say but their impact will with out a doubt have a resounding impact on religious and historical aspects of modern life. Do we know what they say? That is the most difficult of all. As all have to be translated we only can get at their actual meaning through a fragmented interpretation of what they say.
These scrolls will hopfully redefine our understanding of the world as it was back then, and describe in greater detail the origins of our faith, something that all people who belive, whether in Christianity, Judaisim, or Islam, is an unparalleled story, not only to be learned, but to be experienced.

posted on Tue, 03/30/2010 - 6:21pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

wow, cool

posted on Fri, 04/02/2010 - 11:37am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

this is very interesting!

posted on Tue, 04/20/2010 - 10:26am
eleanor barnett's picture
eleanor barnett says:

very interesting, it would be a cool job to be able to decipher them.

posted on Sun, 06/13/2010 - 4:17pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i think the exhibit could focus more about the srolls and less about the world around them

posted on Sun, 06/20/2010 - 1:44pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

It is so interesting how they can translate them to every language in each side of the religion world... ex. christianity

posted on Mon, 06/28/2010 - 4:40pm
Anais's picture
Anais says:

It is so interesting how they can remove the plant oil from the scrolls without harming them (the writing and the fragileness of the papyrus paper) at all.

posted on Mon, 06/28/2010 - 4:44pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Yes that is so interesting! I cant believe it doesnt even harm them. Over time they would break if they are not kept in a room that is like a cave, so that shows how they are so fragile!

posted on Mon, 06/28/2010 - 4:56pm
Anais's picture
Anais says:

If the scrolls were radio active dated or radiodated does that mean the same thing as the old and new testimate? Since there was two of them?

You can find this in the first sentence of the first paragraph.

posted on Mon, 06/28/2010 - 4:46pm
sarah e.'s picture
sarah e. says:

This is truly amazing! I would call it one of the greatest mysteries of all time. It is simply fascinating. I love this exhibit because it shows a long lost(and forgotten)part of human history and culture. This is my second time here and it just keeps getting better. Everytime you look at an artifact another time you see things you did not before. It is so intriguing to watch this mystery unfold differently for everyone.

posted on Mon, 06/28/2010 - 4:56pm
Loren E.'s picture
Loren E. says:

you gotta love carbon 14

posted on Mon, 07/05/2010 - 1:25pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

its pretty sweet how the scrolls show how little the text has changed over the centuries. We can trust the Bible to be accurate and unchanged

posted on Wed, 07/07/2010 - 2:42pm
Per-Michael's picture
Per-Michael says:

Is it true that the pots were made from clay and is it important to Scienctist

posted on Tue, 07/27/2010 - 3:09pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I love it!! Still don't understand why a shepard was up in a mountian. Carbon 14 rox! If not 4 carbon 14 we wouldn't have the dead sea scrolls in a great conition like we have today!! Super cool artfact and hope to see it again!!!

Mortica

posted on Thu, 10/21/2010 - 12:11pm

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