International researchers find method to date Dead Sea Scrolls

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File photo shows a document, thought to be an ancient text written on papyrus, is displayed at Jerusalem Magistrates Court May 6, 2009. This style of writing is primarily known from the Dead Sea scrolls and various inscriptions that occur on ossuaries and coffins.

STOCKHOLM, Jan. 20 -- A Danish archaeochemist and an international team of researchers have found a way to enable scientists to precisely date the Dead Sea Scrolls, according to reports reaching here from Copenhagen on Wednesday.

"For more than a decade we've been saying that there was no point in dating the scrolls before we found a method to remove the oil. Now we have found just such a method," Kaare Lund Rasmussen, Associate Professor and Archaeochemist of the University of Southern Denmark, was quoted as saying by the Danish newspaper Politiken online.

Treatment of the scrolls included being spread out using plant oil, which in turn made precise carbon dating of the scrolls almost impossible, said Politiken.

However, researchers have now found a chemical method to remove the oil without harming the parchment of the scrolls, and thus allowing precise carbon dating, said the report.

Carbon dating tests of the scrolls were carried out in the 1990s by the Zurich Institute of Technology and the University of Arizona, but precise dating has remained controversial. It is not yet clear when a new set of carbon dating tests will be carried out, the report added.

The Dead Sea Scrolls consisting of about 900 documents and other ancient documents were discovered between 1947 and 1956 in caves near the Qumran Wadi northwest of the Dead Sea.