Dear colleagues

My attempt to define the site of Qumran, Ain el-Ghuweir and posssibly
Zissu's site in Jerusalem as Essene is based mainly on demographics, i.e.
the lack of women with the exception of one at Qumran and the lack of young
children at all of the three sites. I completely agree with Jurgen that one
cannot say that Qumran is Essene on the basic of tomb architecture, as these
type of graves occur elsewhere in the region however no site in the region
will have a demographic cemetery profile as one finds in Qumran. The use of
the term 'shaft tomb', to designate these tombs is, in my opinion, also
inappropiate as it is also associated with Bronze Age tombs. What I would
suggest in the future is to apply the typology which is employed by
prehistorians in which the 'find site' of a certain lithic type then is used
to designate that feature in other sites. As the Qumran graves are the first
tombs in the region to be excavated by archaeologists with this architecture
I would, for the sake of simplicity, suggest that the term 'Qumran
type-shaft grave' be adopted by scholars when describing similar tombs in
the region. This would certainly simplify matters for all.

My argument with Golb et al is that the problem facing Qumran scholars is
basically an anthropological/archaeological  one whereas nearly all the
interpertations have been made by textual scholars which is why the obvious
has been overlooked.  There are few Qumran scholars today, or in the past
that have come to the discipline with a background in both fields. De Vaux,
Puech, Broshi are those few  individuals that readily come to mind whom have
had the experience in both fields which is why, I believe, they concur with
my idea that the site of Qumran is a sectarian one. Had these three
individuals been versed in the field of burial archaeology/physical
anthropology they too in my opinion would have reached the same conclusions
decades ago. This is unfortunate, as much has been written on the question
of the cemetery which has totally and unnecessarily confused Qumran scholars
for years. I certainly can see the concern of textual scholars trying to see
the 'whole picture' and attempting to clarify the problems surrounding the
site however without the necessary background in burial archaeology they
have missed the obvious. Prior to my article in DSD I visited the site with
a British colleague, whom had never seen the site nor was aware of the
arguments over the cemetery with the high number of women and children in
the southeast corner of the cemetery. Within 15 seconds he immediately knew
that these east-west graves were either Christian or Moslem and all one had
to do was to excavate one of two or look at the positioning of the body and
grave goods. This basic and fundamental fact was known by Clermont-Ganneau
in 1873 when he opened a tomb as well as by Bedouin workers excavating with
Bar-Adon when he excavated Ain el-Ghuweir as well as the rest of us in
burial archaeology.  What I believed threw off scholars for the past 50 odd
years was the fact that both groups, Jewish and Arab marked the graves with
a pile of stones inc. head and foot markers. However that is where the
similarity ends.

As for the large number of copies of certain texts which you cite, I believe
that many scholars today would agree that not only were many of these
scrolls not Qumranic in origin but may have been stored there in the caves
for safe keeping. The pottery analysis of several scrolls jars would seem to
belie this assertion. Lastly, as for literacy, it would be hard to imagine
that the men of Qumran would not be literate on the basis of what is known
about the sect.

Joe Zias
Science and Archaeology Group @ The Hebrew University

----- Original Message -----
From: Ian Charles Hutchesson <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Sent: Monday, June 03, 2002 4:07 AM
Subject: Re: orion-list Essene cemetery at Jericho?

> Dear Joe,
> You wrote:
> >In my opinion, assigning Essene
> >affinity to a cemetery must contain the following four shared criteria:
> >orientation, tomb architecture, demographic disparity and few if any
> >goods. "Without these defining criteria, all appearing in Qumran and
> >Ain el-Ghuweir cemeteries, any attempt to assign definite Essene
> >will remain unconvincing" p.244. This remains true for Jericho as well.
> This also remains true for Qumran as well. I have never been able to
> fathom why you talk about the Essenes, for you never support the issue.
> In the article you cite, there is a section, starting on p.240, titled
> "Discussion: Is Qumran Essene?", and reading through the section one
> finds no reasons for you to believe your conclusion. You take Golb to
> task, which is quite popular, but never get down to answering your own
> question. What it seems is that you assume that the Essenes wrote the
> Qumran texts, then argue, citing Puech, that, because Paradise and the
> New Jerusalem lay in the north, there is "sufficient reason for the
> north-south orientation of the graves in the main cemetery." (p242)
> (Is this also sufficient reason for the north-south orientation in the
> Bab edh-Dhra graves as well?) Puech is free to have his opinion, but
> this isn't an argument that Qumran was Essene. I am left wondering why
> you consistently talk about the Essenes when dealing with the subject
> of the tombs at Qumran.
> >Qumran is totally unlike Jericho, the latter being a lush
> >oasis whereas the former is totally dependent on runoff water being
> >to the site in the winter by acquduct. Furthermore, Jericho during the
> >Herodian period was a population running well into the thousands, Qumran
> >best, several dozen, the list of disparities is long. The only ethnic
> >similarity between the two sites is that in both sites lived Jews, one
> >(Qumran) being Essene and the population of Jericho being, the 'Other'. I
> >would argue that the influence of one on the other was probably
> >insignificant.
> I must agree with most of the above, especially where you say that the
> population of "Qumran was at best, several dozen". This is similar to
> Patrich's estimate for what the compund could support after having
> ruled out cave and tent dwelling, yet Broshi and Eshel have gone lower
> than that for the compound, claiming not much more than 20 people could
> be housed there, then opting for those caves which Patrich had not
> examined, as an expedient for propping up higher numbers of residents
> at Qumran. If we are left with a population that is restricted to a
> magnitude of dozens and not of hundreds, then we strongly need to have
> a better explanation for why there should be thirty copies of
> Deuteronomy and more copies of the Psalms. One thing is certain: the
> population at Qumran cannot supply a need for such high numbers of
> texts. We have to assume a ridiculously high literacy rate before we
> can even contemplate that the scrolls were for local use.
> What I don't agree with in the above is the necessity of the Essenes
> being mentioned. That seems to be just another of the many unfounded
> assumptions attached to the Dead Sea Scrolls.
> Ian
> )

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