The nation’s Declaration of Independence was photographed Tuesday in a laboratory at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem using sophisticated technology developed for the Dead Sea Scrolls to preserve the precise visual elements of the historic document for future generations.
According to the Antiquities Authority, the state-of-the art photography was done in coordination with the Israel State Archives to replicate the original appearance of the document, which was signed on May 14, 1948.
The declaration was photographed in the authority’s Lunder Dead Sea Scrolls Conservation Laboratory using an advanced multi-spectral photographic system that allows shooting different exposures at a number of wavelengths.
The process, which captures the visible region to the near infrared region of the document’s spectrum, will provide information regarding the texture of the material from which the scroll is made, including its ink and topography surface, the Antiquities Authority said.
“With this innovative system, a precise and clear copy of the Declaration of Independence was created as it was when originally signed, prior to the ravages of time that are now visible on it,” said State Archivist Dr. Yaacov Lozowic.
“Besides the advanced documentation, the photography will facilitate assessing the current condition of the Declaration of Independence, and in that way be of assistance in mapping out the necessary measures for preserving the scroll for future generations.”
Lozowic said the document currently is stored in a closely guarded facility equipped with special lighting and temperature controls.
“Until a decision is made regarding how the scroll is to be exhibited to the public, we will continue performing various operations aimed at documenting, revealing and preserving the scroll for future generations,” he continued.
“Today’s photography is another step in this process after last year when the archive, with the assistance of the Israel National Heritage Landmarks program, digitally photographed the Dead Sea Scrolls in collaboration with Google,” Lozowic said.
Pnina Shor, director of the Dead Sea Scrolls Project at the Antiquities Authority, said the technology was developed by the world’s leading scientists, with assistance of the Leon Levy and Arcadia Foundations.
“We are happy to help not only in preserving the material heritage from the distant past, but the recent cultural heritage as well,” said Shor.
“It is exciting and symbolic to document the Declaration of Independence today, one of the cornerstones of the State of Israel, with technology developed specifically for the Dead Sea scrolls – the earliest Hebrew texts, 2,000 years old, which were first discovered on the eve of the establishment of the state, at the time when the Declaration of Independence was written.”
The Declaration of Independence is considered the most important document created in the State of Israel, constituting the first document reflecting Jewish sovereignty since the time of the Hasmonean kingdom.
Representatives of various political camps negotiated every idea and word in the declaration until they reached a final consensus on the text, with debate continuing up to the signing ceremony itself.