The Declaration of Independence was removed from the facility where it is stored in a rare event Tuesday so it could be photographed using an innovative technique developed for photographing the Dead Sea scroll.
The procedure, a joint initiative of the Israel State Archives and Israel Antiquities Authority, was carried out to recreate the document’s original appearance for future generations.
The Declaration of Independence is stored in a special environment meant to ensure its preservation. The document, one of the country’s most important cultural assets, proclaims the establishment of the State of Israel and defines its character.
The scroll is 117 cm long and 29.7 cm wide. It is made in three parts, and bound on the side with an interwoven thread and a wax seal.
It was photographed in the LunderDead Sea Scrolls Conservation Laboratory of the Israel Antiquities Authority, using innovative technology developed especially for the Dead Sea scrolls.
An advanced multi-spectral photographic system allows for photographing the document with different exposures at a number of wavelengths – from the visible region to the near infrared region of the spectrum. The advanced photography will provide information regarding the texture of the material from which the scroll is made, its ink and its surface.
The combination of exposures in the visible range will provide a high quality and exact color photograph identical to the Declaration of Independence, while exposures in the near infrared region will allow reading written characters appearing on the document which have faded over time. With this innovative system a precise and clear copy of the Declaration of Independence was created, as it was when originally signed, prior to the ravages of time that are now visible on it.
Dr. Mordechai Naor, a writer and researcher of the history of Israel described in his recently published book “Great Friday” the ceremony proclaiming the state and the preparation of the Declaration of Independence.
He presented both well-known and little-known details about the scroll, the writing of which was not completed until the time of the historic ceremony, and the problems that arose during the signing.
He wrote, “Because the ceremony was held in Tel Aviv, some of the signatories were unable to arrive because Jerusalem was under siege, and they signed the scroll only a month later, in ‘spaces’ that were left them specifically for this purpose….
“Because the guest lists have not been found to this day, it is not known exactly who the 300 individuals were that were invited to the ceremony proclaiming the state. One person that was almost not allowed to enter was the designated Minister of Justice Pinchas Rosenblüth (Rosen) who forgot to bring his invitation. It was only after Ze’ev Sherf, Secretary of the Situation Committee, intervened was he permitted to enter and thus was also able to sign the Declaration of Independence.”
The Declaration of Independence is the first document reflecting Jewish sovereignty since the time of the Hashmonean kingdom, and it is probably the first document that reflects a desire for sovereignty achieved by a democratic consensus.
The scroll was read as a proclamation of independence, on Friday, the 5th day of Ayar, 5708 (May 14, 1948) in the Tel Aviv Museum then located at 16 Rothschild Street, in the house of the city’s first mayor, Meir Dizengoff. Twenty-five members of the Provisional State Council signed the declaration and twelve others who were in besieged Jerusalem signed it later.