The   S C R I P T A   Q U M R A N I C A   E L E C T R O N I C A   project (SQE) is all about bringing the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, first discovered by beduins in 1947 and today curated at the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and the Shrine of the Book, to the digital age. Its aim is to provide a new standard online platform for Dead Sea Scrolls editing and to prepare pioneer Digital Scholarly Editions of Qumran Texts. It is the intention of the SQE project to provide the public with world-wide free access to its tools for Dead Sea Scrolls research. The resulting dynamic, extensible, and collaborative platform will ultimately set the stage for the next generation of Dead Sea Scrolls research.

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By combining two major databases (the digital images of all known Qumran fragments at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library, IAA, Jerusalem, and the textual and linguistic data for all texts included in the Qumran­wörter­buch, Qumran Dictionary, at Göttingen Academy), SQE brings together scholars of the Scrolls and AI as well as database specialists on the one hand, as well as a broader public on the other hand. The highly customized and cutting-edge tools will enable scholars and students of the Scrolls (and more than 25.000 fragments) deeper insights than previously thought possible.

The basic concept of the SQE Project

Currently, the joint Göttingen/Haifa project consists of two editorial (one for each university) and two IT teams (Göttingen Academy and Tel Aviv University), as well as several additional partners. The principal investigators are Prof. Dr. Reinhard G. Kratz (Theo­logical Faculty, University of Göttingen) and Prof. Dr. Jonathan Ben-Dov (Faculty of Humanities, University of Haifa), together with Prof. Dr. Nachum Dersho­witz (School of Computer Science, Tel Aviv University). Co­operation partners include the Israel Antiquities Authority (Pnina Shor, Dr. Joe Uziel), the Department of Hebrew Culture Studies at Tel Aviv University (Prof. Dr. Noam Mizrahi), and the Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Huma­nities (apl. Prof. Dr. Ingo Kott­sieper).

Hav­ing once con­nect­ed and syn­chro­niz­ed all da­ta from both da­ta­ba­ses, a “Vir­tu­al Re­search En­vi­ron­ment (VRE)” is pro­gram­med by the IT Team (Göt­tin­gen).
This VRE will sub­se­quent­ly be used by the va­ri­ous edi­tors to pro­duce their res­pec­tive Di­gi­tal Scho­lar­ly Edi­ti­ons (pub­lish­ed on the Scrip­ta Qum­ra­ni­ca Web­site, but a­vail­ab­le in se­ve­ral for­mats). The Edi­to­ri­al Teams (Göt­tin­gen and Hai­fa, Pa­ris) give their in­put to the IT Team: What tools, func­ti­ons, al­go­rithms are need­ed to pro­duce the edi­ti­on? How in­tui­tive is the user in­ter­face and what can be im­prov­ed?
In this phase, the IT Team is re­spon­si­ble for the im­port of the edi­to­ri­al da­ta (read­ings, re­con­struc­ti­ons; un­til au­to­mat­ed func­ti­ons and edit­ing of the da­ta are re­aliz­ed with­in the SQE sys­tem), for pro­vid­ing the re­quest­ed func­ti­ons as well as op­ti­miz­ing the so-cal­led “Scrol­le­ry” from the edi­tors’ feed­back.
Here, the Com­pu­ter Sci­en­ces (Tel Aviv) come in­to play, de­ve­lop­ing tools that en­ab­le the user to, e.g., find ima­ges from a cer­tain frag­ment on dif­fe­rent (his­to­ric­al pho­tos), spot let­ters or “Re­gi­ons of In­ter­est” (ROIs; with the help of, in­ter a­lia, Deep Learn­ing and Neu­ral Net­work­ing Tech­no­lo­gies) and have char­ac­ters re­cog­niz­ed au­to­ma­ti­cal­ly (OCR), as well as as­sign and link all a­vail­ab­le da­ta to the sing­le ob­jects.
The IT-Team it­self is fi­nal­ly as­sist­ed by qua­li­fied User In­ter­face/User Ex­pe­ri­en­ce (UI/UX) ex­perts (Hai­fa) who are de­sign­ing the “fi­ne-tun­ed” ver­si­on of the in­ter­face.

The SQE project is a German-Israeli co­operation financed through the
German-Israeli Project Coordi­nation (DIP) of the DFG (German Research Foundation).