The Shrine of the Book in the Israel Museum: from ancient scripts to nanotechnologies

Would you ever believe that the entire Bible text may fit onto a nano chip of a sugar grain size?! Now it is a reality, and you may see it in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. This incredible exhibit was created for the 50th anniversary of the museum in the laboratories of Technion Institute in Haifa. The engraved text needs to be magnified 10,000 time so a human eye can read it!

The nano-Bible is located in the Shrine of the Book – a part of the Israel Museum, which also serves as a home for the Dead Sea Scrolls. They are ancient manuscripts first discovered in mid-20th century in the caves near Khirbet Qumran, on the shores of the Dead Sea – that is why they are also called Qumran Scrolls. 

A finger holding the Nano Bible (photo – Nitzan Zohar, Technion)

The Shrine is a white dome of an unusual shape. A special temperature and humidity regime is maintained in the dome to preserve the precious documents. They are so fragile that it is impossible to display them on a regular basis. So the museum put them on rotation – every 3-6 months another piece is put on display and the previous goes to a special storeroom to "rest".

One of the scrolls you may see is Alleppo Codex dated from the 10th century BC – the oldest(!) existing Hebrew Bible original. Other scrolls represent biblical texts and commentaries and other religious writings, mainly in Hebrew, but also in Aramaic and Greek. Historians suggest that the scrolls were a part of the library of a religious sect that lived in Qumran. Some of these texts were never known before or found only in translations, so the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls was a revolution in the studies of Judaism and early Christianity.

The Dead Sea Scrolls, Isaiah columns 1-5

I personally think that any tourist travelling to Israel should visit the Israel Museum – it is a great and entertaining way to learn about this land's history and the culture of its people. And seeing the oldest and the most modern Bible at the same place is just mind-blowing. 

The Israel Museum in Jerusalem was founded as an Israeli national museum in 1965. The Archaeology Wing holds a permanent exhibition of the history of Eretz Israel (land of Israel) – from ancient tribes through the Ottoman Empire. The collection in "Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Wing for Jewish Art and Life" immerses you into the world of Jewish traditions and way of life. The Second Temple model helps you imagine how Jerusalem looked like 2000 years ago. The museum also hosts other permanent and temporary exhibitions, including classical and modern art.


Photo courtesy of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem


  1. I'm sure I would love a visit to Israel, however I have fears for how this may affect my travels into other countries within the region (I recall some countries frown upon entry with an Israeli stamp in ones passport).

    Are you aware if this is still the case?

    When it affects freedom of travel, I have even less time for politics and religion than I even normally do (which is in truth, very little)!

    • Elena Nemets

      Hi, Chris. Actually, Israel is NOT stamping the passports for several years already (exactly because it does not want to create problems for travellers). On the border you would get a printed entry card and then an exit card. So you are more than welcome.

    • Isreal feels like a place full of history. That nano-bible is such a cool thing.

  2. I am a book lover and I love this detail about the bible on a nano chip. With my love for history I would also be really interested in the old manuscripts. 

  3. I really want to get to Jerusalem soon.

  4. This museum was one of my favorites in Jerusalem. I learned so much, and the texts were gorgeous.  It really is a must-see in my opinion. 

  5. I've heard of this place so much and yet I've never been able to visit it! It's so fascinating and I'd really love to see it in person!

    • Elena Nemets

      It really is. And the museum itself is a great place to learn about the history and traditions of the land of Israel in a short time.

  6. I would love to visit Israel! Seems like you had a really cool experience here. That nano Bible is crazy!

  7. The Nano Bible is just unbelievable. Those ancient scrolls and the history surrounding them is something which I would surely be interested in exploring further. Love the shape of the Israel Museum..its so unique.  

    • Elena Nemets

      Thanks! The museum itself has several building – this weird dome is built especially for the Dead Sea Scrolls.

  8. Museums are always fascinating. This one which has such prized possessions is really intriguing. The Nano bible and the Death Sea Scrolls are indeed fascinating. Would love to visit this museum when in Israel to get a closer understanding of the rich culture and history of Israel.

  9. Wonderful! I've been to Israel twice now, but have never heard of this place! Next time I'll definitely check it out!

    • Elena Nemets

      Jerusalem has so much to offer that I am not surprised that people are skipping museums 🙂 Although this one is totally worth a visit.

  10. I visited this museum many years ago.  It was amazing then. Israel is a fascinating country despite its nano chip size compared to other countries that surround it. I would have loved to read this latest version of the Bible.

  11. What a beautiful country – my hubby has been to Isreal to play a game. I did not get to go but it is on our list! We also have many freinds who play basketball there and love it there! I cant wait to go and would love to see this museum!

  12. There is so much history there, it is a must see for every tourist! 

  13. Wow nonotech is so amazing. This is a really cool musuem. We'd love to "see" this. Although I'll have to bring my glasses 🙂

  14. I can't even imagine actually visiting Jerusalem. It would be a dream come true! Someday I will, and I will most certainly visit the Israel Museum. I had a good friend who studied the Qumran scripts and was an expert. Ever since I learned about them from him, I have always wanted to know more!

  15. Fascinating to see the size of it. Was that just a picture of a hand or do they show you that? I wonder how they even realized what it was 

  16. Very useful information. I wish I have the time and money to travel the world and see everything, but I know that is impossible and for that reason I love reading posts like this. Thanks for sharing

    • Elena Nemets

      I actually travel only part time, on vacations from my day job, but still managed to see a lot, so everything is possible!

  17. I've never been to Israel, but I will definitely visit this place if I do! And yes, technology is amazing with nano technology and almost infinite storage and computing power, it's hard to imagine what kind of tech we will have in a decade or two!

  18. I'm so thrilled by this. That's amazing. I do intend to visit Israel someday when I can. I'd love to see all those landmarks for myself

  19. I have never been to Israel so far, but it is somewhere I would love to visit one day, I do love museums and history x

  20. Wow! This article was very interesting. The Nanotech aspect is one that I've never associated with Israel. Thanks for sharing such useful information.

  21. I was in Jerusalem for TBEX last month and had a choice between Tower of David and Israel Museum. I chose Tower of David, but if I ever go back, I want to see Israel Museum.

  22. Ali Rost

    I've always wanted to go to Israel and ths Israel Museum will be another stop on my wish list once I'm there.  I've read so much about all of the ancient manuscripts .. I'd love to hear more from a trusted source!  


  23. A nano bible…. that is so tiny! Isreal has lots of history, I'm glad it has a museum that is taking very special care of those documents. 

  24. That really didn't surprise me. Technology is getting smaller and faster everyday. My only issue would be that I'd lose it in a heartbeat.

  25. Elizabeth O.

    I think this is really beautiful. It's definitely a must see. Museums are always worth visiting especially if you're in a different country, it helps you learn more about the country's history and culture. 

    • Elena Nemets

      I think Israeli Museum does the great job in this respect – they have a very organized exhibition on the history of Israel and of Jewish traditions as well.

  26. If that so, this nano-Bible is so amazing! This is Israel's spirit and technology that come together to generate the smallest bible in the world.

  27. I agree, We get to know a lot of things when we visit a Musuem in any country. Israel should have great historical heritage. Thanks for sharing your views.

  28. Its kind of crazy to think something as jam packed with text like the Bible can fit into a Nano Chip hardly big enough for the eye to see. I have never visited Jerusalem but would dearly love to see all the precious findings that were discovered through the years. The Dead Sea scrolls look amazing…

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