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orion dead sea scroll article
To the Editor of Newsday,
The article on Dead Sea Scrolls included some misinformation. Here is
one example. Neil Altman claimed that "the earliest known use of red
ink on manuscripts dates to the third or forth century after Jesus."
And he claimed, "For 50 years, they [the scroll editors] kept quiet
that red ink was used."
Red ink has been used for a long time, for example, in Ancient Egypt.
A study, "The Red Ink of the Dead Sea Scrolls," has been published,
which includes chemical analysis and references to ancient literature.
(It was written by Y. Nir-El and M. Broshi and appeared in the journal
Archaeometry, volume 38 (1996) pages 97-102.)
Color photos of scroll fragments with red ink have been published in
the series Discoveries in the Judaean Desert (published by Oxford
There are many published references to the discovery of Dead Sea
Scrolls with red ink; this fact was not hidden. For example, Frank M.
Cross in 1956 wrote in the journal Biblical Archaeologist (volume 19,
page 83) that a manuscript of the Bible book Numbers is "decorated
with headings in red ink."