Courtesy of Estate of Yigael Yadin

The temple scroll, before it was unrolled. Although showing some damage, this Dead Sea scroll survived largely intact. Other scrolls from the Qumran caves have not been so lucky, having fallen victim to the ravages of rodents, insects and humidity. The latter two can attack a scroll from the inside, as well as from the outside, by using the hollow shaft at the scroll’s center as a portal to the interior. Consequently, many scrolls have been reduced to incomplete collections of fragments—like jigsaw puzzles with thousands of pieces, many of which are missing. The problem for scholars is how to reconstruct the original documents from the remaining pieces. Now a new method of reconstruction, developed by Prof. Hartmut Stegemann and explained in the accompanying article, promises to yield important results.