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Concept: Ein Gedi


Computer imaging techniques are commonly used to preserve and share readable manuscripts, but capturing writing locked away in ancient, deteriorated documents poses an entirely different challenge. This software pipeline-referred to as “virtual unwrapping”-allows textual artifacts to be read completely and noninvasively. The systematic digital analysis of the extremely fragile En-Gedi scroll (the oldest Pentateuchal scroll in Hebrew outside of the Dead Sea Scrolls) reveals the writing hidden on its untouchable, disintegrating sheets. Our approach for recovering substantial ink-based text from a damaged object results in readable columns at such high quality that serious critical textual analysis can occur. Hence, this work creates a new pathway for subsequent textual discoveries buried within the confines of damaged materials.

Concepts: Codex, Manuscript, Ein Gedi, Torah, Israel, Scroll, Dead Sea, Dead Sea scrolls


Background:Commiphora gileadensis (Hebrew: apharsemon) has been used since Biblical times to treat various ailments, and is used today in the traditional medicine of some Middle Eastern cultures. Methods: The essential oils from the stem bark, leaves, and fruits of Commiphora gileadensis-collected at the Ein Gedi Botanical Garden, Israel-were obtained by hydrodistillation and analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. In addition, the enantiomeric distributions of the monoterpenoids in the essential oils have been determined by chiral gas chromatography. Results: The essential oils were dominated by monoterpene hydrocarbons, followed by oxygenated monoterpenoids. The major components in C. gileadensis oils were the monoterpenes α-pinene (11.1-18.4%), sabinene (15.8-35.9%), β-pinene (5.8-18.0%), p-cymene (4.8-8.4%), limonene (1.3-6.2%), γ-terpinene (0.7-8.1%), and terpinen-4-ol (5.3-18.5%). The (-)-enantiomers predominated for α-pinene, sabinene, β-pinene, limonene, and terpinen-4-ol. Conclusions: The chemical compositions of the C. gileadensis essential oils from Israel are markedly different from previously reported samples, which were rich in sesquiterpenoids. Likewise, the enantiomeric distribution of monoterpenoids is very different from Boswellia spp. essential oils.

Concepts: Petroleum, Middle East, Israel, Terpenes and terpenoids, Balsam of Mecca, Chromatography, Ein Gedi, Monoterpene