“Dead Sea Scrolls: The Exhibition” is the current Franklin Institute presentation of 20 ancient Biblical texts (10 scrolls at a time, in two rotations) that are part of the miraculously preserved trove known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. The scrolls are believed to date from around 250 BCE to 68 CE and were discovered in a group of caves near Khirbet Qumran, close to the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea in Israel.
The first cache of scrolls was discovered in 1947 when a Bedouin shepherd casually tossed a rock into a cave and heard a pot shatter. Over the following eight years, archaeologists excavated a series of caves and found thousands of parchment fragments that included the oldest known copies of the Hebrew Bible. The parchments, some no larger than a postage stamp, were pieced together during the decades that followed.
The identities of the people who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls remain unknown. Many scholars believe that they were written by members of a sect that broke away from mainstream Judaism and lived in the desert from the third century BCE until 68 CE, when their community was destroyed by the Romans. Other scholars believe that the Dead Sea Scrolls also include writings from other areas, including Jerusalem. Whatever their origin, they provide the most complete existing record of these writings that changed the world.
The discovery of the scrolls was hailed as the most important archaeological find of the 20th century for a number of reasons. Even at the time the Dead Sea Scrolls were written, scrolls were rare, though writing was fairly common in Egypt, Greece and the Middle East during the period. Most people were illiterate, and papyrus and parchment were expensive. Of the few scrolls that were created, even fewer survived, since parchment is very fragile. In addition to destruction in fires, floods, or battles, parchment can be damaged by humidity and light. The age of these scrolls is astonishing: the next-oldest surviving parchment scrolls bearing the words of the Bible date from nearly 1,000 years later.
“There are few periods in history that we can look back to as moments that defined the emergence of a world-changing civilization or a culture,” said Dennis M. Wint, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Franklin Institute. “The Dead Sea Scrolls are considered to be amoung the world’s greatest archeological discovieries, and combined with the hundreds of other rare artifacts, provides visitors with an unparalled look at what everyday life was like thousands of years ago in isreal. It was a crucial time for three of the world’s religions — formative years for Judiasm, Christiany and Islam — whose followers today make up a third of the world’s population.”
In addition, the discovery of the scrolls shed light on the language used in the Bible. The words and knowledge in the Bible were most likely spread through public readings of the scrolls. The beauty of the language that dates back over 2,000 years is found again and again throughout the texts, and is highlighted in the following prose: “In the year six hundred of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the first [day] of the week, on its seventeenth [day], on that day all the springs of the great abyss were split and the sluices of the sky opened and rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights."
“Dead Sea Scrolls: The Exhibition” is on view from May 12 to October 14 at the Franklin Institute, located 2000 Benjamin Franklin Parkway. For more information, visit www.fi.edu.
There’s a crime taking place at The Franklin Institute, and you are invited to solve it. The region’s latest exhibition, “CSI: The Experience,” is completely immersible and invites visitors to step into the world of cutting-edge forensic science and employ actual investigative techniques. Guided by investigators from the hit television show along with their real-life forensic science counterparts, visitors will investigate a crime scene, formulate a hypothesis, collect and analyze forensic evidence, validate their findings to build a case — and see if they can solve the crime.
As visitors enter the “Experience,” they take on the role of forensic scientists and are directed into a crime scene and challenged to identify and gather evidence. Once complete, they analyze those findings in two highly interactive labs, each featuring multiple stations that allow for a variety of evidence testing. Visitors will get one last look under the skin as the medical examiner goes over their case in the autopsy room. Finally, they use the scientific information gathered throughout the exhibit to answer a series of questions on touch screens. After completing the survey, a case summary is generated and they can compare their scientific findings to those of expert crime scene investigators.
“CSI: The Experience” was developed by the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History and Bob Weis Design Island Associates with support from CBS Consumer Products, the cast and crew of the television show and the National Science Foundation. The “Experience” brings to life fundamental scientific principles, numerous scientific disciplines and the most advanced technology and techniques used today by crime scene investigators and forensic scientists. Through hands-on activities with real equipment, as well as multi-media presentations, guests will sample the following science fields and understand their role in cracking crimes.
After exiting the crime scenes, guests will refer to a large wall of crime scene photos and clues they may have missed — then begin to analyze evidence in two highly interactive lab areas, each featuring multiple stations that allow for various evidence testing.
Guests who are investigating “A House Collided” will compare fingerprints of the victim to the evidence, examine blood spatter patterns, observe the shoes of the victim and tracks found in the room, compare fibers on the victim’s clothes with fibers in the room, analyze the victim’s blood-alcohol level, compare DNA of the victim with evidence and eventually discover the cause of death. Those examining the “Who Got Served?” crime scene will review evidence within the cell phone, examine the contents of the handbag, inspect the purse and headshot for fingerprints, establish the time of death, review DNA samples and test powder from various items at the scene, all to help determine the cause of death. Visitors analyzing “No Bones About It” will scrutinize the bullet from the found skull, study hairs found with the body, examine a seed found in the fabric of the tattered shirt, test the DNA of an animal’s hair and compare dental records to the victim, in order to discover the cause of death.
At the end of the exhibit, visitors present their findings in a recreation of the office of Gil Grissom — the enigmatic CSI Supervisor. They’ll be asked to answer a series of multiple choice questions, based on their scientific findings, on touch screens located in this area. After completing these questions, they’ll receive feedback and see if they have cracked the case.
“CSI: The Experience” runs from Oct. 1 to Jan. 2 at The Franklin Institute, 222 North 20th Street. Tickets are timed and dated, and advance ticket purchase is strongly recommended. For more information on purchasing individual tickets, call (877) TFI-TIXS or visit www.fi.edu. Information on discounted tickets for groups of 15 or more is available at (800) 285-0684.
The Franklin Institute broke ground last week on an ambitious new state-of-the-art building addition, the first major expansion project for the museum in more than two decades. The 53,000 square-foot Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion is scheduled to open in 2014. It will feature an expanded education center with integrated learning technologies, a modern conference center and a climate-controlled traveling exhibition gallery.
Housed within the new Karabots Pavilion will be a striking new core exhibit entitled “Your Brain.” The 8,500-square-foot exhibit will focus on the study and understanding of the human brain. Delving into a range of topics in neuroscience and psychology, the exhibit shows how this evolving science is having a profound impact on our personal and societal decisions.
With this new addition the Institute will be able to broaden its educational impact, specifically through programs that provide opportunities for children from underserved communities to positively engage with science and technology. The facility will also enable the Institute to continue attracting premiere traveling exhibits. In recent years, the Franklin Institute’s ability to mount successful traveling exhibitions has garnered international acclaim for Philadelphia while creating a measurable economic impact on the region’s economy. The addition is named in recognition of Nicholas and Athena Karabots, whose $10 million gift marks the largest individual contribution ever to the science museum.
“The Franklin Institute is extremely thankful to the Karabotses and all of our many supporters who have helped make this day a reality,” said Dennis M. Wint, president and CEO. “Today’s groundbreaking marks a new beginning for the museum, as we look to the future and the many exciting possibilities through which we can continue to inspire a passion for science learning”
Total design, construction and fit-out for the building addition will generate 150,000 hours of work and 125 jobs in construction, design and consulting in Philadelphia, as well as 20 additional full-time or full-time equivalent jobs at the Franklin Institute. For more information, visit www.fi.edu.
More than 100 community partners are participating in the 3rd annual Philadelphia Science Festival, which is sponsored by Dow Chemical Co. and runs April 18-28. Crazy Aaron’s Puttyworld, The Please Touch Museum, Riverbend Environmental Education Center, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, The Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center at Temple University and The Franklin Institute are all encouraging aspiring scientists to participate.
For example, Beth Beverly, billed as the city’s preeminent “rogue taxidermist” who made her national television debut February on AMC’s “Immortalized,” will headline one of this year’s most-anticipated programs, “Skinned, Stuffed and Mounted: Taxidermy Exposed.” Along with other experts, including “The Breathless Zoo” author Rachel Poliquin, the April 21 event will feature live demonstrations and in-depth discussions at The Wagner Free Institute of Science.
“There will be something for every interest and every taste, whether you’re into taxidermy, tacos or transistors,” said Steve Snyder, vice president of exhibit and program development for The Franklin Institute, the lead organizer behind the third annual Festival. “There are more than 100 collaborative programs taking place this year, and more than two-thirds of them are free. Sure, there are more traditional topics – although they’re presented in new and unusual ways through unique collaborations. But we also focused on more main-stream concepts and irreverent, somewhat quirky topics, too.”
Some weird, quirky and downright odd programming highlights include “The Morgue the Merrier: The Science of the Living Dead” at Laurel Hill Cemetery. Zombie-lovers and novice gumshoes alike will be able to satisfy their quirky appetite with a body part scavenger hunt and “zombie autopsy” followed by appropriately themed refreshments and hands-on activities. And Morris Arboretum has teamed up with their local Iron Hill Brewery in Chestnut Hill to offer “Bugs-A-Brewing.” In celebration of the upcoming exhibit, “David Rogers’ Big Bugs,” the Arboretum will be discussing how some tiny creatures threaten our trees and plants while others are beneficial and should be protected.
A complete list of Festival events is available at PhilaScienceFestival.org.