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Release: Immediate

USC professor to speak about computer analysis of ancient documents

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Bruce Zuckerman, a religion professor at the University of Southern California (USC), is using computer imaging technology to examine ancient Biblical documents in greater detail than has ever been possible before. He will visit the University of Iowa to present a lecture Sunday, March 8 about the window into the past that the new technology has created.

Zuckerman will discuss some of the technological advances he and his colleagues have helped implement in both photographic and computer imaging of the Dead Sea Scrolls. He will illustrate some of the basic problems of decipherment caused by the deterioration of the scrolls and what may be done to reclaim their precious data before time runs out. Part of his discussion will include a "real time" use of computer imaging enhancement and manipulation techniques to read these ancient texts in ways that have never been done previously.

Zuckerman's expertise in this area comes from having served for the last 15 years as director of the West Semitic Research Project, which aims to develop a comprehensive photographic archive of all the major West Semitic inscriptions. He has also been director since 1981 of the University of Southern California Archaeological Research Collection, which comprises several thousand ancient artifacts from Israel, Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Egypt, Cyprus, the Greco-Roman world, and Gandhara.

Zuckerman's presentation is offered in conjunction with a year-long photographic exhibit in the UI School of Religion celebrating the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. UI religion professor George Nickelsburg created the exhibit, "Discoveries by the Dead Sea: The Scrolls Fifty Years Later," which is on display through May 1998 on the third floor of Gilmore Hall. In the collection of nearly 50 photos, visitors can view the site of the discovery, learn about the people who discovered the scrolls, and begin to understand the beliefs, practices, frustrations, and hopes of the scrolls' authors.

The lecture, which begins at 2 p.m. in Room 106, Gilmore Hall, is free and open to the public. For further information, contact the UI School of Religion at (319) 335-2164.