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Who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls? Crowdfunding project Qumran Institute - Artificial Intelligence

06 September 2013

Ubbo Emmius has initiated a crowdfunding campaign to find out who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls:

Who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?

The Dead Sea Scrolls are one of the most important archeological findings ever. In the middle of the last century almost thousand manuscripts from the period before and around the start of our era have been discovered in the caves around Qumran. Mladen Popović, director of the Qumran Institute and CRASIS fellow, is researching the often heavily damaged scriptures. With the help of artificial intelligence he wants to discover who wrote and copied the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Together with Lambert Schomaker, scientific director of the Artificial Intelligence Institute of the RUG, Mladen wants to analyze the Dead Sea Scrolls digitally. They believe that with highly advanced techniques for pattern matching and image processing, the individual writers of the scriptures can be identified. This makes it possible to find out who wrote which scripture, if one or more people wrote a scripture and the importance of their roles. With this knowledge it is possible to have a better understanding of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the culture from which they originated.

Teach MONK how to read

At the Artificial Intelligence Institute, a unique system has been developed for the retrieval of historical and handwritten archives. In this system, MONK, all fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls have been entered. MONK now has to learn how to recognize characters, words and handwritings. This can be accomplished by carrying out as much analysis as possible by the system, and then correct its mistakes by hand. The more analyses performed, the more efficient the system will be able to identify handwritings and characters that are nearly invisible to the naked eye . Besides, the meticulous differences between the characters provide this computer information about the individual handwritings of every writer. The results of this research will be defined in a database that will offer an important addition to the current paleographic knowledge.


You can help make it possible for Mladen and his team to perform this research. With an amount of 20.000 euro it is possible to have a third of the documents analyzed on a very detailed level. This makes it possible to develop a usefull database with different characters and words. Based on this, the research of recognizing handwritings concerning the Dead Sea Scrolls can be significantly improved. You can support us by donating via this website. You can also help us by sharing this page, for example by facebook, or by telling your family, friends and colleagues about this initiative and motivating them to donate as well. Every amount helps us towards our goal. Together we can help Qumran Institute to further unravel the secrets of the Dead Sea Scrolls. We would like to thank you in advance for your generous support!

Unique exhibition

Would you like to see the Dead Sea Scrolls yourself? You can! Until January 5th 2014, a unique exhibition about the scrolls is presented in the Drents Museum, where Mladen Popović is involved as curator.

Last modified:12 September 2014 4.47 p.m.

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