Shalom, thanks for the sentiments regarding my paper on the cemetery. As
for your comments on Hirschfeld's attempt to portray the site as a manor
house, from information that I have heard here, few archaeologists accept
his theory on
archaeological grounds. The site is one of the most inhospital places in the
region for a manor, and the cemetery data certainly argues against it. From
economic point of view in terms of their ability to produce anything for the
mkt. the chance seems slight. The settlement was probably not even
self-sufficient at best.
True as you point out, the site has a tower but the
fortifications are poorly fashioned, thin outer walls, no
geographic/military reason to choose this for either a fort or a manor. If
one looks at fortified sites in the region from earlier/later periods one
ceertainly one can see the reasons for their existence. Secondly, why would
one need so many miqvot and what are all those males doing there?
Skeletally, they were not soldiers as they bear no signs of trauma.
As for sites in the region where one can find a sim. demographic profile
i.e. adult males, I cannot offhand think of any. In fact, even in the
Judean desert monasteries from the Byz. period one finds the remains of
woman and children, as celibacy was not obligatory until centuries later.
The cemetery is unique in anthro. terms, with it's closest parallels being
Ain el-Ghuweir and the cemetery of Zissu in Jerusalem.
Taylor, I believe, in one of the better papers on Qumran brought up the
point of spindle whorls however if women were indeed part of the community
they must appear in the cemetery. One has to interpert the site as a whole
and not pick and choose discrete cultural elements to prove or disprove ones
pet theory. This only confuses the issue. Any interpertation of the site
will have certain problems with which one must contend and not all are
answerable. . If for
example, spindle whorls attest to the presence of women then, where are all
the rest of the 'womans artifacts'? They certainly may have been there from
time to time but residing there, hard to accept.
Equating the site with all three major sects, seems implausable, purely on
demographic factors in the cemetery as one knows that the other two sects
were not celibate. Again this leaves us with few choices.
As for the toilet, this could be checked easily with new sci. tech.
available, unfortunately, there has not been an over abundance of goodwill
in certain quarters and with certain individuals in allowing researchers
access to the finds which could easily solve these problems today. As an
outsider, Qumran research reminds me more of the 'World Cup' in that instead
of cooperation among scholars to solve a historical problem (which is easily
solvable) we find too many deliberate attempts by scholars and institutions
both here and in France to hide, deceive, deny and destroy. What we are
left with is at times a parody of science and what could easily pass as
scandal rather than science. In fact, visiting the cemetery a
few days ago I counted 9 newly excavated graves, despite vigorous denials
from those individuals involved in excavating them. The graves were
excavated and then
the excavators replaced the covering stones in a rather pathetic attempt to
they had excavated. This is anthropology/archaeolgy, no but rather
of much of Qumran studies for many decades. This deception is detrimental
to the future of anthropology in particular and archaeology general as the
IAA has continually claimed that they do not intentionally excavate human
skeletal remains and only
remove them when they are in danger of being destroyed by construction
projects (salvage archaeology) Seems that one can clearly see a double
standard being employed
In the near future Jodi Magness will be publishing a book on the archaeology
of Qumran, based on her earlier publications, it should be a sound, sane,
attempt to clarify many of the issues surrounding the site including the
issue of the toilet near the miqva which personally I have problems
As for the textual issues which you raised, I have to plead
complete ignorance, halacha is one area in which I have decided not to
and know little, if anything about.
Science and Archaeology @ The Hebrew University
Original Message -----
From: <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
To: <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Sent: Friday, June 07, 2002 1:54 AM
Subject: Re: orion-list Essene cemetery at Jericho?
> Dear Joe Zias,
> First, I think your observations on the apparent bedouin burials in
> auxiliary cemetery (if I may call it that) is one of the more important
> recent contributions to Qumran archaeology, alongside Hirschfeld's
> identification of the remains as a fortified manor house based on
> with architectural layouts of other sites.
> A couple questions.
> First, do I recall correctly that others have argued that more than
> skeleton in the main cemetery were female or possibly female? Certainly
> spindle whorls and fabric fragments at Qumran show a female presence at
> Second, are there other social contexts in which cemeteries are found
> that are predominantly male? It seems to me a sectarian interpretation of
> this datum is not the only possible one. For instance, a very basic
> question, what are the ratios of males to females in agricultural or
> industrial sites? This seems especially relevant since the fortified
> house layout suggests the site may have been more of an agricultural
> enterprise (perhaps associated with the palms of Ein Feshka) rather than a
> private domicile.
> Third, even if one granted a hypothesis that the site were sectarian,
> what sect is indicated by the archaeological data? The halachic texts
> important affinities with Sadducee tenets, and indeed the only Qumran
> with significant parallels to Josephus' description of the Essenes are 1QS
> and certain portions of CD that display influence from 1QS. This had an
> undue influence on the earliest generation of scrolls scholars who hadn't
> seen 11QT, 4QMMT, etc. So one must ask, does the archaeology of the site
> better correlate with Essenes or Sadducees? Mikvaot were common to all
> sects, I imagine. It seems to me the toilet found within the site of
> rather argues against an Essene identification. And what of the proximity
> the cemetery to Qumran? It seems to me a sound archaeological approach
> consider possible correlations with all three sects, not jump the gun and
> equate religious features at the site (e.g. the mikvaot) as pointing to
> Essenes. Pliny is often prematurely invoked, but the religious
> is primarily associated with Period Ib, while at best Pliny's testimony
> points to Essenes in Period II (and not necessarily as owners of the
> I will be very interested in your insights.
> Best regards,
> Russell Gmirkin
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