The physical sciences have played a significant role in opening of the Dead Sea Scrolls—termed by some scholars the greatest store of ancient Hebrew documents ever found. Among them is the “Lamech Scroll,” whose individual layers of gelatinized leather were almost completely stuck together. But it was unrolled—by James Bieberkraut of Hebrew University (above)—by humidifying the scroll and prying the relaxed leather apart with surgical instruments.
To the naked eye—even that of a scholar—much of this part of the Thanksgiving Scroll—one of the Dead Sea Scrolls—is unintelligible. But with an infrared photograph, Rabbi Dr. Joseph M. Baumgarten of Baltimore Hebrew College reads: “And my heart was writhing with anguish, and my loins with trembling;/ and my groan cometh verily unto the abyss,/ And in the chambers of the nether world it is hidden together (?) ./ And I dread when I hear Thy judgment with the mighty in…”