Israeli scientists say they have started an ambitious project to digitally scan and post the 2,000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls on the Internet.

The Israel Antiquities Authority Wednesday announced that all of the thousands of scroll fragments will be scanned using non-damaging, high-tech imaging, which will reveal previously illegible portions.

Authority officials say the goal of the project is make the ancient biblical documents more available to researchers and the public.  The project is expected to take several years and will help preserve the fragile fragments.

The scrolls consist of about 900 fragmented manuscripts.  A Bedouin shepherd first discovered the scrolls in caves along the shores of the Dead Sea in 1947.

The documents contain the oldest known copies of the Hebrew Bible and descriptions of life for Jews and early Christians at the time of Jesus.

For years, only a small number of scholars had access to the scrolls.