Ira Rabin- CEE Special Seminar

Friday, November 17, 2017 at 4:00pm to 6:00pm

Room 33-116

Characterization of the Dead Sea Scrolls by Advanced Analytical Techniques.

For many years after the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, text analysis and fragment attribution were the main concern of the scholars dealing with them. The uncertain archaeological provenance of a large part of the collection added difficulties to the already formidable task of sorting thousands of fragments. After 60 years of scholarly research the questions of origin, archaeological provenance and correct attribution of the fragments are still debated. To help address these questions we have developed a methodology suitable to the material studies of the scrolls using combinations of X-ray, FTIR and Raman techniques. On the one hand, an accurate characterization of the highly heterogeneous writing media of the Dead Sea Scrolls leads to a reliable reconstruction of their history and, thus, contributes significantly to the current debate. On the other hand, it provides new information on the production of ancient parchment towards the end of the Second Temple period, opening a new page in the historical study of technology.


Ira Rabin studied chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  Between 1979 and 1983 she worked as a student and later as a staff member of the Conservation Department of the Jewish National and University Library (JNUL), with specialization paper and parchment conservation. In 1983 she returned to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to continue her studies in physical chemistry. In 1987 she moved to Berlin, where she obtained a PhD degree in physical chemistry at the Max-Planck-Society in collaboration with the Free University. Until 2003 she worked in basic research in cluster physics in the Fritz-Haber-Institute of the Max-Planck-Society and continued her research on parchment but as a hobby. Since 2003 her main research interest has been dedicated to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Between 2005 - 2007 she worked in Israel as a scientific advisor for the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Jewish National Library. 2007 - 2010 she coordinated the international Qumran project. Since 2016 professor at the Hamburg University. Currently, she is senior scientist at the Federal Institute of Material Research and Testing (BAM) in Berlin and the Centre for the Studies of Manuscript Cultures (CSMC) in Hamburg, Germany.



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