Qumran

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Qumran (خربة قمران, חירבת קומראן, Khirbet Qumran) is located on a dry plateau about a mile inland from the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea in the West Bank, just next to the Israeli kibbutz of Kalia. The Hellenistic period settlement was constructed likely sometime during the reign of John Hyrcanus, 134-104 BCE or in decades later, and was occupied for most of the years until it was destroyed by the Romans in 68 CE or shortly after. It is best known as the settlement nearest to the hiding place of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the caves of the sheer desert cliffs and beneath, in the marl terrace.

Since the discovery from 1947 to 1956 of nearly 900 scrolls in various conditions, mostly written on parchment, with others on papyrus, extensive excavations of the settlement have been undertaken. Cisterns, Jewish ritual baths, and cemeteries have been found, along with a dining or assembly room and debris from an upper story alleged by some to have been a scriptorium as well as pottery kilns and a tower.

Many scholars believe the location to have been home to a Jewish sect, the Essenes being the preferred choice; others have proposed non-sectarian interpretations, some of these starting with the notion that it was a Hasmonean fort which was later transformed into a villa for a wealthy family or a production center, perhaps a pottery factory or similar.

A large cemetery was discovered to the east of the site. While most of the graves contain the remains of males, some females were also discovered, though some burials may be from medieval times. Only a small portion of the graves were excavated, as excavating cemeteries is forbidden under Jewish law. Over a thousand bodies are buried at Qumran cemetery.<ref>de Vaux 1973, p.45f, states that there were 1100 tombs in the main cemetery. However, Kapera 2000, p.46, argues for only 669 tombs. But an on-site survey came closer to de Vaux's number, Eshel, Hanan, Magen Broshi, Richard Freund, and Brian Schultz. "New Data on the Cemetery East of Khirbet Qumran." DSD 9/2 (2002) 135-165.</ref> One theory is that bodies were those of generations of sectarians, while another is that they were brought to Qumran because burial was easier there than in rockier surrounding areas. <ref>Some Notes on the Archaeological Context of Qumran in the Light of Recent Publications</ref>

The scrolls were found in a series of eleven caves around the settlement, some accessible only through the settlement. Some scholars have claimed that the caves were the permanent libraries of the sect, due to the presence of the remains of a shelving system. Other scholars believe that some caves also served as domestic shelters for those living in the area. Many of the texts found in the caves appear to represent widely accepted Jewish beliefs and practices, while other texts appear to speak of divergent, unique, or minority interpretations and practices. Some scholars believe that some of these texts describe the beliefs of the inhabitants of Qumran, which, may have been the Essenes, or the asylum for supporters of the traditional priestly family of the Zadokites against the Hasmonean priest/kings. A literary epistle published in the 1990s expresses reasons for creating a community, some of which resemble Sadducean arguments in the Talmud.<ref> Joseph M. Baumgarten, "The 'Halakha' in Miqsat Ma`ase ha-Torah (MMT)." JAOS 116/3 (1996) 512-516)cautioned against premature suggestions of few Sadducee agreements as if pointing to identity. Schofield, Alison, and James C. VanderKam. "Were the Hasmoneans Zadokites?" JBL 124/1 (2005) 73-87 show that matters of "Zadokite" identity are not simple. Also, "Sadducees" in Second Temple Period are not fully identical with Talmudic use of the term. In some scrolls "sons of Zadok" are members of the sect, but not a name for the whole sect. </ref> Most of the scrolls seem to have been hidden in the caves during the turmoil of the First Jewish Revolt, though some of them may have been deposited earlier.

Contents

Discovery and excavation

See Also Dead Sea Scrolls

Image:Qumran Caves.jpg
Caves at Qumran

The site of Khirbet Qumran had been known to European explorers since the Nineteenth Century<ref>J. E. Taylor, "Khirbet Qumran in the Nineteenth Century and the Name of the Site." Pp. 144–164. Cansdale 2000, especially p.633 regarding F. de Saulcy.</ref>. The initial attention of the early explorers was focused on the cemetery, beginning with de Saulcy in 1851. In fact, the first excavations at Qumran (prior to the development of modern methodology) were of burials in the cemetery, conducted by Henry Poole in 1855 followed by Charles Clermont-Ganneau in 1873<ref>B. Schultz, "The Qumran Cemetery: 150 Years of Research." Pp. 194-196</ref>. Full-scale work at the site began after Roland de Vaux and G. Lankester Harding in 1949 excavated what became known as Cave 1, the first scroll-bearing cave. A cursory surface survey that year produced nothing of interest,<ref>Trever 1965, p.147.</ref> but continued interest in the scrolls led to a more substantial analysis of the ruins at Qumran in 1951, an analysis which yielded traces of pottery closely related to that found in Cave 1.<ref>Trever. ibid.</ref> This discovery led to intensive excavations at the site over a period of six seasons under the direction of de Vaux.

Image:Qumran chronology chart 3.jpg
Chart of various proposed chronologies of Qumran.<ref>From Cargill, Robert R., Qumran through (Real) Time: A Virtual Reconstruction of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls, Bible in Technology 1, (Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2009), Plate 10.1. *Used with permission - author upload.</ref>

The Iron Age remains at the site, which were modest but included a lmlk-seal, led de Vaux to identify Qumran as the City of Salt listed in Josh 15:62. The site, however, should probably be indentified with Secacah, which is referenced in the same area as the City of Salt in Josh 15:61. Secacah is mentioned in the Copper Scroll, and the water works of Secacah that are described in this source are consistent with those of Qumran.<ref>H. Eshel, "A Note on Joshua 15:61–62 and the Identification of the City of Salt." Pp. 37–40</ref> Following the Iron Age, the excavations revealed that Qumran was principally in use from the Hasmonean times until some time after the destruction of the temple by Titus. De Vaux divided this use into three periods: Period I, the Hasmonean era, which he further divided in two, Period Ia, the time of John Hyrcanus, and Period Ib, the latter Hasmoneans, ending with an earthquake and fire in 31BCE (this was followed by a hiatus in de Vaux's interpretation of the site); Period II, the Herodian era, starting in 4BCE on up to the destruction of the site apparently at the hands of the Romans during the Jewish War; and Period III, a reoccupation in the ruins. De Vaux's periodization has been challenged by both Jodi Magness<ref>Magness 2000, p.713f. Magness rejected Period Ia and the hiatus between Periods Ib and II.</ref> and Yizhar Hirschfeld.<ref>Hirschfeld, "Context", p.52f. Hirschfeld proposed a new periodization based on the analysis of Humbert Revue Biblique 1994. 209f.</ref>

The site that de Vaux uncovered divides into two main sections: a main building, a squarish structure of two stories featuring a central courtyard and a defensive tower on its north-western corner; and a secondary building to the west. The excavation revealed a complex water system which supplied water to several stepped cisterns, some quite large, located in various parts of the site. Two of these cisterns were placed within the walls of the main building.

Both the buildings and the water system evince signs of consistent evolution throughout the life of the settlement with frequent additions, extensions and improvements. The water channel was raised in order to carry water to newer cisterns further away and a dam was placed in the upper section of Wadi Qumran to secure more water, which was brought to the site by an aqueduct. Rooms were added, floors were raised, pottery ovens relocated and locations were repurposed.

De Vaux found three inkwells at Qumran (Loci 30 (2) and 31) and over the following years more inkwells have come to light with a Qumran origin. Jan Gunneweg identified a fourth (locus 129). S. Steckoll found a fifth (reportedly near the scriptorium). Magen and Peleg found a sixth inkwell . Without counting the Ein Feshkha inkwell or others with debated provenance, that is more inkwells than found at any other Second Temple Period site, a significant indication of writing there.

De Vaux's interpretations

De Vaux interpreted his findings at Qumran based (at least in part) upon the information contained within the Dead Sea Scrolls, which continued to be discovered in the nearby caves throughout his excavations. De Vaux concluded that the remains at Qumran were left by a sectarian religious community. Using his excavations as well as textual sources, including the Dead Sea Scrolls and the historical accounts recorded by Pliny the Elder, Philo, and Flavius Josephus. De Vaux’s conclusion was that the inhabitants of the site were a sect of highly ritualistic Jews called the Essenes, a conclusion that has come to be known as the “Qumran-Essene Hypothesis.”<ref>De Vaux was actually a relative late-comer to the Essene identification, years after Eliezer Sukenik proposed the notion in 1948. It seems that it was also derived independently by Butrus Sowmy of St Mark's Monastery at the same time, according to Trever 1965, p.25.</ref> This hypothesis suggests that the original residents of the settlement were the Essenes, and that they established the site in the desert for religious purposes.

He interpreted the room above locus 30 as a “scriptorium” because he discovered inkwells there. A plastered bench was also discovered in the remains of an upper story. De Vaux concluded that this was the area in which the Essenes could have written some of the Dead Sea Scrolls. De Vaux also interpreted locus 77 as a “refectory,” or a community dining hall, based on the discovery of numerous sets of bowls in the nearby “pantry” of locus 89. Additionally, de Vaux interpreted many of the numerous stepped cisterns as “miqva’ot,” or Jewish ritual baths, due to their similarity to several stepped and partitioned ritual baths near the Jerusalem Temple Mount.

Regarding the scrolls De Vaux cautiously stated that "manuscripts were copied in the scriptorium of Qumran... We may also suppose... that certain works were composed at Khirbet Qumran. But beyond this we cannot go."<ref>de Vaux 1973, p.104.</ref> He believed that the Essenes later hid the scrolls in the nearby caves when they felt their safety was in danger.

Further excavations

Although de Vaux's excavations of Qumran were quite exhaustive, and thereby the most important source of information on the settlement, there have been several excavations since de Vaux finished his work. Because de Vaux left little of the settlement unexcavated, later diggers were sometimes reduced to digging in the less-important dump areas. During the 1960s, according to Catherine Murphy, there were some unpublished excavations at Qumran by John Allegro and by Solomon Steckoll.<ref>Murphy 2002, pp.293-294. Murphy is citing Laperoussez, Qoumran, L'establissement essenien des bord de la Mer Morte: Histoire et archeologie (Paris: A.&J. Picard, 1976) 14 & 135.</ref> Steckoll also carried out work in the cemetery, excavating twelve tombs.<ref>Steckoll, Solomon, "Preliminary Excavation Report in the Qumran Cemetery" Revue de Qumran 6 (1968) 323-344.</ref> In 1967 restoration work was performed at Qumran by R.W. Dajjani of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan.<ref name="Hirschfeld 2004, p.21">Hirschfeld 2004, p.21.</ref>

In 1984 and 1985 Joseph Patrich and Yigael Yadin carried out a systematic survey of the caves and pathways around Qumran. Between 1985-1991 Patrich excavated five caves, including Caves 3Q and 11Q. One of Patrich's conclusions was that the caves "did not serve as habitations for the members of the Dead Sea Sect, but rather as stores and hiding places".<ref>Patrich 1995, p93.</ref>

From mid-November 1993 to January 1994 the Israel Antiquities Authority carried out works in the Qumran compound and nearby installations as part of "Operation Scroll" under the direction of Amir Drori and Yitzhak Magen.<ref>Murphy 2002, pp.294. Murphy is citing A. Drori et al., "Operation Scroll" in Twentieth Archaeological Conference in Israel: Abstracts (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1994) 12-17 [Hebrew].</ref> In the winter of 1995-1996 and later seasons Magen Broshi and Hanan Eshel carried out further excavations in the caves north of Qumran; they also dug in the cemetery and in marl terrace caves.<ref name="Hirschfeld 2004, p.21"/> In 1996 James Strange and others dug at Qumran using remote sensing equipment.<ref> Strange, James F. "The 1996 Excavations at Qumran and the Context of the New Hebrew Ostracon." In The Site of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Archaeological Interpretations and Debates. Proceedings of the Conference Held at Brown University, November 17-19, 2002, ed. Katharina Galor, Jean-Baptiste Humbert and Jürgen Zangenberg, 41-54. Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah 57. Leiden: Brill, 2005</ref> From 1996 to 1999 and later Yitzhak Magen and Yuval Peleg carried out excavations at Qumran under the auspices of the National Parks Authority.<ref>Magen 2006, p.55.</ref> Randall Price and Oren Gutfield dug on the Qumran plateau, seasons in 2002, 2004 and 2005 (and plan a 2010 season) <ref> http://www.worldofthebible.com/archaeology.htm</ref>

Recent archaeological analysis

Image:QumranLivingQuarters.jpg
Rooms on the western side of the main building at Qumran.

More recently the theory of Qumran being a religious settlement has been critiqued by some archaeologists who consider the notion very unlikely. In the late 1980s Robert Donceel, while working on the materials left by the original excavator of Qumran, Roland de Vaux, found artifacts which he considered did not fit the religious settlement model, including "sophisticated glass and stoneware". But stonewear was used by religious for purity reasons. <ref> I. Magen, The stone vessel industry in the Second Temple period, 2002. Donceel & Donceel-Voute, 1994, p.12.</ref> In 1992 Pauline Donceel-Voute put forward the Roman villa model in an attempt to explain these artifacts.<ref>Donceel & Donceel-Voute, 1994.</ref> Donceel-Voute's interpretation has been shown wanting because of the lack of other artifacts expected if Qumran were a villa.<ref>See for example, Magness 2002, p.95-99.</ref> A recent final publication of the French excavations<ref>See Humbert "Reconsideration", 2003.</ref> with the evidence of a decorated frieze, opus sectile, fine columns etc., indicates after all that there existed a phase of a wealthier occupation "une grande maison" at Qumran. According to Jean-Baptiste Humbert, the style of the columns find a parallel at the Tomb of Jason in Jerusalem.Template:Citation needed While the villa model now seems dubious to some, the evidence that it tried to explain has led to further attempts at explanation. Some analysts have suggested that Qumran was a commercial trading center ("entrepot").<ref>Cansdale 1994.</ref> For others it was a pottery production center.<ref>e.g. Magen and Peleg, as well as Hirschfeld.</ref>

A survey and spatial studies carried out by Finnish and British archaeologists Minna Lönnqvist and Kenneth Lönnqvist in the area of Qumran in the 1990s supports the theory<ref>see Lönnqvist and Lönnqvist 2002.</ref> that the orientations of the settlement and the graves, show that both the settlement and the graves belonged to an intentional planning scheme following the practice of the societies adhering a solar calendar. This scheme indicates that the settlement and its cemetery are connected to the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Essenes. It should be noted that the Dead Sea Scrolls found in the caves nearby the settlement comprise texts which use a 364-day solar calendar instead of a lunar calendar.

The range of pottery, glass and high quantity of coins found at Qumran do not sit well in the context of a sectarian settlement according to the Donceels<ref>Donceel & Donceel-Voute 1994, coins: p.6; glass and stoneware, p.12.</ref><ref>But relatively few "luxury" items, such as glass and stone ware have so far been published (and some of them may be from Period III).</ref> These materials point to trade connections in the area, and provide evidence that Qumran may not have been in a vacuum in the Graeco-Roman period. Rachel Bar-Nathan has argued from similarities between pottery finds at Qumran and at the Hasmonean and Herodian palaces of Jericho that Qumran should be seen as part of the Jordan valley context rather than as an isolated site.<ref>Bar-Nathan 2006.</ref> While the cylindrical "scroll jars" from Qumran were once thought to be unique, she cites a proposed similar find at Jericho, shows a related form existed at Masada,<ref name="Bar-Nathan 2006, p.275">Bar-Nathan 2006, p.275.</ref> and reports that such jars have been found at Qalandiya.<ref>Personal communication from Y. Magen, Bar-Nathan 2006, p.275.</ref> Bar-Nathan states from the Jericho palace data that "it is possible to trace the typological development of this group of jars", ie the cylindrical jars.<ref name="Bar-Nathan 2006, p.275"/> Jodi Magness, citing Bar-Nathan's M.A. thesis on the Jericho pottery data, refers to cylindrical jars at Jericho, saying "[a]t Jericho, most of these jars .. come from an industrial area dating to the time of Herod".<ref>Magness 2002, p.81.</ref> Jan Gunneweg observed that the supposed single partial parallel a Jericho "a partly preserved rim and neck with a vertical loop handle" is in fact not a "scroll" jar.<ref> p105-6, with photo, "Figure 5. The wrongly dubbed Jericho 'Scroll' jar with handle." in Jan Gunneweg and Marta Balla, "The Provenance of Qumran Pottery by Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis, 99-108 in Bio- and Material Culture at Qumran, ed. J. Gunneweg et al. (Stuttgart : Fraunhofer IRB Verlag, 2006).</ref> Another one was reported found in Jordan in a later burial near Abila but no photos or drawings were unpublished and the jar has not been relocated, showing de Vaux sought parallels. Taking into account subtypes of pottery, true cylindrical "scroll" jars are not common outside Qumran. They are, however, clearly not unique to Qumran. Bar-Nathan noted the jar's "rarity in the Second Temple period."<ref>Masada VII (Israel Exploration Society, 2006), p. 43</ref> Of some of the proposed parallel Masada jars, Bar-Nathan wrote "It seems that this group of storage jars was brought (or pillaged?) from the area of Qumran and probably also from the Plain of Jericho." <ref> Masada VII, p. 43</ref>

Image:Kumeran4.jpg
Qumran caves

The several large stepped cisterns which are a feature of Qumran have been viewed as ritual baths by many scholars. This accords with the religious settlement model. There are difficulties in understanding all these cisterns as baths, however. Qumran's water arrived perhaps twice a year from run off of water brought down by rain. Water was one of Qumran's most valued commodities and water management is an integral part of the site, as seen with the numerous cisterns and channels. If the large cisterns were ritual baths the water would sit getting dirtier through ritual bathing throughout the year and was extremely infrequently replenished by the run off. The current state of analysis of the cisterns is still unresolved, but Katharina Galor suggests a mixed usage of the stepped cisterns as both ritual baths and water storage.<ref>Galor 2003, esp. 317.</ref> According to the Israeli archaeologists Magen and Peleg, the clay found in the cisterns was used for pottery factory facilities.<ref>Magen 2006.</ref>

The population at Qumran

One important issue for the understanding of the site of Qumran is a realistic calculation of its population. Using estimates based on the size of the cemetery and average lifespan de Vaux calculated that the inhabitants "would not have numbered many more than 200 members."<ref>de Vaux 1973, p.86.</ref> He noted that "[t]here is a manifest disproportion between the number of tombs and the number of inhabitants for whom there was room in the buildings."<ref>de Vaux 1973, p.56.</ref> This led him to speculate whether the caves were used as lodgings for his estimated 200 inhabitants. J.T. Milik some years earlier provided an estimate of between 150 and 200 as the average population, working on the comparison with the population of the monastery of Mar Saba, which numbered 150 monks in the ninth century and from Josephus' figure of 3,000 Essenes calculating that "at least five per cent lived the strict monastic life".<ref>Milik 1959, p.97.</ref> E.M. Laperrousaz went as high as 1,428 inhabitants.<ref>Laperrousez, Qoumran, L'establissement essenien des bord de la Mer Morte: Histoire et archeologie (Paris: A.&J. Picard, 1976) 99-107.</ref> Magen Broshi, analyzing the size of L77 (which he calls an assembly hall), estimated that about 120 to 150 people could sit there, to which he added a few dozen candidates to the population, yielding over 170 people.<ref>M. Broshi 1992, p.104.</ref>

From 1983 to 1987 Joseph Patrich carried out archaeological surveys around Qumran and its caves. He concluded that the caves were "stores and hiding places". He found no traces of permanent tent dwellings and that any "dwelling quarters should be sought inside the wall of Khirbet Qumran, mainly on the upper floor." Patrich estimated that the population was only 50-70 people.<ref>Patrich 1994, p.93-94.</ref> Magen Broshi and Hanan Eshel, revisiting the caves and the territory around Qumran in 1995-1996, later pointed out that Patrich's estimate was far too high for what Qumran could offer, reducing the number to 12-20. They turned back to caves (mainly artificial ones cut into the marl terrace most of which have not survived) and tents (pointing to pottery and nails found along one of the paths near Qumran), and staying with 150-200 inhabitants.<ref>Broshi 1999, p.330-334.</ref> While waiting for the publication of Broshi and Eshel's results, Patrich, anticipating them, doubted the possibility that there were once "significantly more habitable caves" cut into the marl, pointing to the lack of paths and suitable terrain. He went on to discount the significance of the nails for tent dwelling without "further substantial evidence and returned to a figure of "a few tens of residents, fifty at most".<ref>Patrich 2000, p.726. Patrich's article actually appeared after the publication of Broshi and Eshel's paper, but was already in press when it appeared.</ref> Jodi Magness accepted Broshi's estimate, adding "This number accords better than lower estimates with the presence of over 1000 dining dishes in the pantry (L86)."<ref>Magness 2002, p.70.</ref>

Working from ratios of populations in other ancient settlements, Yizhar Hirschfeld estimated the population of Qumran thus: "If we use the lower value of fifteen people per dunam [1,000 m2], it emerges that in the Hamonean period only about 20 people occupied the site of Qumran.<ref>Hirchfeld 2004, p.65.</ref> Yitzhak Magen and Yuval Peleg entered the discussion commenting on how one could feed such large numbers of community members: "Were we to accept the claim that the sect lived at Qumran for about 170 years, we would expect to find hundreds of cooking and baking ovens as well as thousands of cooking pots."<ref>Magen 2006, p.99.</ref>

The population question is a complex issue, as can be seen by the above considerations. A lot hinges on the interpretation of two locations at Qumran, those which are called the "refectory" and the "pantry". The search for extramural dwelling quarters has failed to provide substantial evidence. Discounting Laperrousaz's apparently excessively high estimate, there is a number of proposals ranging from 20 to 200 people living in and around Qumran.

Recent Numismatic Studies on Khirbet Qumran

The coins from Qumran are one of the most important groups of primary evidence from the ancient site. Much of what has been written on the chronology, the occupational periods and the history of Qumran was based on the preliminary report and lecture written by the original excavator Roland de Vaux in 1961, which was translated in 1973.<ref>In French, in R. de Vaux (1961), L’Archéologie et les Manuscrits de la Mer Morte. The Schweich Lectures of the British Academy 1959. Oxford, pp. 3-37. In English translation, in R. de Vaux (1973) Archaeology and the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Schweich Lectures 1959, Revised edition in an English translation. Oxford, especially pp. 33-41, but also elsewhere.</ref> A tentative list of the Qumran bronze coins along with Roland de Vaux’s field diary from the excavations was published in 1994 in French, in German in 1996 and in English in 2003.<ref>De Vaux 1994 = R. de Vaux (1994) Ed. J.-B. Humbert and A. Chambon, Fouilles de Khirbet Qumrân et de Aïn Feshkha. Album de photographies. Répertoire du fonds photographique. Synthèse des notes de chantier du Père Roland de Vaux OP. Novum Testamentum et Orbis Antiquus, Series Archaeologica 1. Fribourg. De Vaux 1996 = R. de Vaux, F. Rohrhirsch and B. Hofmeir (1996) Die Ausgrabungen von Qumran und En Feschcha. Die Grabungstagebücher. Novum Testamentum et Orbis Antiquus, Series Archaeologica 1A. Göttingen. Humbert, Chambon and Pfann 2003 = J.-B. Humbert, A. Chambon and S. Pfann (2003) The Excavations of Khirbet Qumran and Ein Feshkha. Synthesis of Roland de Vaux‘s Field Notes. Novum Testamentum et Orbis Antiquus, Series Archaeologica 1B. Fribourg.</ref> The first reconstruction of the Qumran bronze coinage, including a complete coin catalogue with up-dated and cross-referenced coin identifications, was done by Kenneth Lönnqvist and Minna Lönnqvist in 2005.<ref>K. Lönnqvist and M. Lönnqvist (2006) ‘The Numismatic Chronology of Qumran: Fact and Fiction’, The Numismatic Chronicle 166, London: The Royal Numismatic Society, pp. 121-165.</ref> Also in 1955, three very important silver coin hoards were found at Qumran. The first lot of the Qumran silver coins was published by Marcia Sharabani in 1980.<ref>Sharabani 1980 = M. Sharabani, ‘Monnaies de Qumrân au Musée Rockefeller de Jérusalem’, Revue Biblique 87, pp. 274-84.</ref> The last two hoards located in Amman, Jordan, were published by Kenneth Lönnqvist in 2007.<ref>K. Lönnqvist (2007). The report of the Amman lots of the Qumran silver coin hoards. New Chronological Aspects of the Silver Coin Hoard Evidence from Khirbet Qumran at the Dead Sea. Amman 2007, pp. 1-72.</ref>

The bronze coinage

De Vaux’s excavations uncovered about 1250 coins (569 silver and 681 bronze coins) altogether from Qumran, though today some Qumran coins have been lost, some lots mixed-up, and records less accurate than ideal. Firstly, there are a surprisingly high number of coins from the site. This means that the site was highly monetized in the Hellenistic and Roman periods, i.e. that the occupants of Qumran were not a community of poor and isolated people. That the flow of cash at Qumran may have been large in the 1st century CE is hardly surprising given the archaeological evidence of trade at Qumran in luxury goods such as glass, which is specifically dated to this period. The coin profile of Qumran shows that there do not appear to have been any major changes in the role of coins and money in the economic system at Qumran during any of the occupational periods from ca. 150 BCE. to 73 CE. Worth noting here is that the amount of coins found at Qumran suggests according to numismatic principles of loss and survival of ancient coins that millions of bronze coins must have circulated at Qumran. Thirdly, the bronze coins identified from Qumran, some dating to the second and third years of the Jewish War, indicate that the site was still in use in 68 CE and only destroyed after 70 CE, perhaps as late as 73 CE.<ref>Lönnqvist and M. Lönnqvist (2006) ‘The Numismatic Chronology of Qumran: Fact and Fiction’, The Numismatic Chronicle 166, London: The Royal Numismatic Society, pp. 21-165.</ref><ref>Leonard, Robert D., 'Numismatic Evidence for the Dating of Qumran', The Qumran Chronicle 7:3/4 (1997), p.231.</ref> The coins from Qumran of this period end with a peculiar series of bronze coins minted in 72/73 CE at Ascalon, which sent auxiliary troops to assist the Roman army in the First Jewish War (66-73 CE). In 73 CE the Romans stormed the mountain fortress of Masada, which also was located on the western bank of the Dead Sea. It is more than likely that Qumran was destroyed this same time, as the coin finds from Qumran end with the same peculiar bronze coins minted at Ascalon.

The silver coinage

The publication of the bulk of the silver coins in 2007 and the regional analysis brought about new interpretations as to the importance, chronology and significance of the coins. Firstly, the newly dated coins in the silver coin hoards give an earliest possible burial date for the silver coin hoards to 52/3-66 CE, based on an interpretation of a countermark. However, the archaeological and numismatic nature of the silver coin hoard burials suggests that the coin hoards may have been buried in the early 3rd century CE. The final coin belongs to Emperor Caracalla and came from the mint of Rome (206-210 CE). The new suggestion made is, that the silver coin hoards from Qumran may be connected to Roman military campaigns in the region, as these are widely attested to in the early 3rd century CE. It is also quite possible that the silver were part of Roman army payments made to troops in a local garrison. Thirdly, the technical evidence of the recording and documenting of the Qumran silver coin hoards in 2006-2007 showed that the coins came from lots, groups or batches of coins that originated in a few or one single large payment. This payment may have come from a mint, bank or an authority like the treasury of the Roman army. The new evidence refutes the possibility that the silver coins could have been collected from single individuals, for instance, as tax payments, or that Qumran could have been a regional ‘tax house’.<ref>K. A. K. Lönnqvist (2008) New Perspectives on the Roman Coinage on the Eastern Limes in the Late Republican and Roman Imperial Periods. VDM Verlag Dr. Muller. Saarbrucken 2009, pp. 222-227.</ref>

Debating the Qumran-Essene Hypothesis

Earlier issues

Image:1QIsa b.jpg
Dead Sea Scroll - part of Isaiah Scroll (Isa 57:17 - 59:9), 1QIsab

There were many challenges to De Vaux’s interpretation of the site of Qumran from the time it was introduced. In fact, some of those who participated in the dig, including archaeologist E.-M. Laperrousaz,<ref>Qoumrân l’établissement essénien des bords de la mer Morte : histoire et archéologie du site / E.-M. Laperrousaz. Paris : A.&J. Picard, 1976</ref> J. T. Milik,Template:Citation needed and F. M. CrossTemplate:Citation needed disagreed with some of de Vaux's conclusions. Henri del Medico,<ref>The riddle of the Scrolls. London, Burke [1958, trans, from French 1957}.</ref> Solomon Zeitlin,<ref> For an annotated bibliography of the most of the critiques, see Sidney B. Hoenig, Solomon Zeitlin: Scholar Laureate, New York, 1971 </ref> and G. R. Driver<ref>Driver, Godfrey Rolles, The Judaean scrolls; the problem and the solution. (Oxford: B.Blackwell, 1965); and see de Vaux's review in French in Revue biblique, 73 no 2 Ap 1966, p 212-235 and in English in New Testament Studies, 13 no 1 O 1966, p 89-104.</ref> are among the critics. J.H. Charlesworth in 1980 proposed that Qumran was damaged in the Parthian war c. 40 BCE.<ref>"The origin and subsequent history of the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Four transitional phases among the Qumran Essenes," Revue de Qumran 10 no 2 May 1980, p 213-233.</ref> De Vaux's initial dig co-director, G. Lankester Harding, in 1955 wrote an article <ref>"Where Christ Himself may Have Studied: An Essene Monastery at Khirbet Qumran," Illustrated London News 227 Sept. 3, 1955 p. 379-81. De Vaux never wrote of Qumran as a "monastery" even though some claim he did.</ref> where he presented Qumran as "a building in which John the Baptist, and probably Christ, studied: Khirbet Qumran," a position that did not represent the view of de Vaux.

Karl Heinrich Rengstorf proposed that despite being discovered near Qumran, the Dead Sea Scrolls were not the product of the residents of Qumran, but of the library of the Jerusalem Temple. Rengstorf based his theory on the fact that the scrolls were written in several different scripts and come from different periods and that the copies of the Isaiah scrolls from Cave 1 are substantially different.<ref>Rengstorf, Karl Heinrich, Hirbet Qumrân and the Problem of the Library of the Dead Sea Caves, Translated by J. R. Wilkie, Leiden: Brill, 1963.</ref>

Later discussion

Some who challenged de Vaux’s findings took issue with the practice of using the Dead Sea Scrolls to interpret the archaeological remains at Qumran. They argued that these remains should be interpreted independently, without any influence from the Dead Sea Scrolls. Various reinterpretations have led to various conclusions about the site. These include:

Robert Donceel and Pauline Donceel-Voûte focused their research on the small finds amongst de Vaux's unpublished materials from Qumran, including, but not limited to, glassware (55 newly catalogued items), stoneware (53 new items), metal wares, and coins. Contrary to the belief that the inhabitants of the site were poor monastics, Donceel and Donceel-Voûte suggest that the residents were actually wealthy traders, with connections to the upper class and wealthy in nearby Jerusalem. They ultimately suggest that Qumran was a villa rustica, or wealthy manor house, that may have been a winter or year-round second home to some wealthy family from Jerusalem.<ref>Donceel, Robert and Pauline H. E. Donceel-Voûte, “The Archaeology of Khirbet Qumran.” Pages 1-38 in Methods of Investigation of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Khirbet Qumran Site: Present Realities and Future Prospects. Edited by Michael O. Wise, Norman Golb, John J. Collins, and Dennis G. Pardee, Vol. 722 of Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, New York: New York Academy of Sciences, 1994.</ref><ref>Donceel-Voûte, Pauline H. E., “Les ruines de Qumran reinterprétées,” Archeologia 298 (1994): 24-35.</ref> At the New York conference J. Magness reported that from what she saw of the pottery in the Rockefeller Museum that "there was very, very little in the way of fine wares." Eric Meyers, next, said "I concur; my visits also corroborate that. I see an affirmative nod from Professor Donceel-Voute."<ref>Wise, et al Methods of Investigation, 50</ref> Rachel Bar-Nathan also notes, "[a]t Jericho, there is also a striking lack of luxury ware, with only a few painted shards in the whole repertoire."<ref>Bar-Nathan 2002, p.272.</ref>

Jean-Baptiste Humbert published de Vaux's field notes.<ref>Humbert, Jean-Baptiste and Alain Chambon, The Excavations of Khirbet Qumran and Ain Feshkha: Synthesis of Roland de Vaux’s Field Notes, Translated by Stephen J. Pfann, Vol. 1B, Fribourg and Göttingen: University Press and Vandenhoeck & Ruprect, 2003.</ref> Humbert proposes a hybrid solution to the debate surrounding Qumran. Humbert accepts that the site might have been originally established as a villa rustica, but that the site was abandoned, and was reoccupied by Essenes in the late first century BCE. Humbert argues that the site may have also been used a place where pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem may have stopped to prepare. Humbert’s theory accepts that the Dead Sea Scrolls should be considered as a product of the Qumran community, while acknowledging that the Essenes did not build the site.<ref>Humbert, Jean-Baptiste, “L’espace sacré à Qumrân. Propositions pour l’archéologie (Planches I-III),” Revue Biblique 101 (1994): 161-214.</ref>

In their book "Archaeology of the Hidden Qumran, The New Paradigm" archaeologists Minna Lonnqvist and Kenneth Lonnqvist brought a modern approach to the Qumran studies based on contextual archaeology with its spatial studies and interpretation of symbolic language of the archaeological data, arguing that the Dead Sea Scrolls had been driven out from their archaeological context by the text scholars who had only focused their studies on the scrolls. Ever since the publication of the book contextualism has been part of the Qumran studies. The Lonnqvists, who had carried out a survey in situ at Qumran, studied unpublished archaeological finds and read scrolls, argued that the scrolls and the settlement are associated to an Essene-type of group which, however, finds the closest parallels in the contemporary Jewish Therapeutic group known to have lived in Egypt.<ref>Lonnqvist M.& Lonnqvist K.(2002) "Archaeology of the Hidden Qumran, The New Paradigm" Helsinki: Helsinki University Press.</ref>

Norman Golb theorizes that the Qumran settlement was not established as a sectarian residence, but was actually a Hasmonean fortress. (Qumran's origin as a Hasmonean fortress was originally proposed by Pesach Bar-Adon.<ref>"On the basis of de Vaux's conclusions concerning stage 1a at Qumran, on the author's excavations at Ain el-Ghuweir (some 15 km south of Qumran) and on Mazar's level 2 at 'En-Gedi, the author ascribes these fortresses to John Hyrcanus, who needed a strong, comprehensive defence system commanding vital water sources, agricultural fields, flocks, Jordan River crossings, the plains of Jericho and the caravan routes in the Judean desert. He turned the Qumran-Ain Feshka oasis, like the one at En-Gedi, into crown property and incorporated his tenants into his strategic plans..." Bar-Adon 1981. English summary, p.86.</ref>) He concludes that there were no sectarians at the site at all and like Rengstorf proposed that the Scrolls had been produced in Jerusalem. Unlike Rengstorf, Golb argues that the scrolls came from different libraries throughout Jerusalem and were hidden in the caves by Jews fleeing the Romans during a political uprising.<ref>Golb, Norman, Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?: The Search for the Secret of Qumran, New York: Scribner, 1995.</ref>

Lena Cansdale and Alan Crown argued for the first time that the settlement was a fortified road station and a port town on the shores of the Dead Sea, meaning that the site was actually a prominent commercial site on a major north-south trade route.<ref>Crown, Alan David and Lena Cansdale, “Qumran: Was it an Essene Settlement?,” Biblical Archaeology Review 20 no. 5 (1994): 24-35, 73-4, 76-78.</ref>

Yizhar Hirschfeld accepted that Qumran was originally a Hasmonean fortress. Citing his work at ‘Ein Feshkha as a comparison, he suggested that the site at Qumran ultimately became an agriculturally-based, fortified trading station during the Herodian era.<ref>Hirschfeld, Yizhar, “Early Roman Manor Houses in Judea and the Site of Khirbet Qumran,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 57/3 (1998): 161-89.</ref><ref>Hirschfeld, Yizhar, Qumran in Context: Reassessing the Archaeological Evidence, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2004.</ref>

Rachel Bar-Nathan rejects the claim that dishware found at Qumran shows any sectarian characteristic, and proposes that such pottery has also been found in varying quantities at Masada, Jericho and other sites in the region.<ref>Bar-Nathan, Rachel, “Qumran and the Hasmonean and Herodian Winter Palaces of Jericho: The Implication of the Pottery Finds on the Interpretation of the Settlement at Qumran.” Pages 263-77 in Qumran: The Site of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Archaeological Interpretations and Debates. Proceedings of a Conference held at Brown University, November 17-19, 2002. Edited by Katharina Galor, Jean-Baptiste Humbert, and Jürgen K. Zangenberg, Leiden: Brill, 2006.</ref>

David Stacey argues that the settlement at Qumran is associated with the estate at Jericho. Due to the scarcity of year-round water at Qumran, he suggests that the site served as a seasonal tannery and pottery production facility.<ref>Stacey, David, “Some Archaeological Observations on the Aqueducts of Qumran,” Dead Sea Discoveries 14/2 (2007): 222-43. </ref>

Yizhak Magen and Yuval Peleg have focused their 10-year excavation at Qumran upon the vast water system at Qumran. They accept that the site was originally a "forward field fort," but argue that the site was repurposed as a pottery production plant, and that the water system was actually used to bring the clay-laced water into the site for the purpose of pottery production.<ref>Magen, Yizhak and Yuval Peleg, The Qumran Excavations 1993-2004: Preliminary Report, Judea & Samaria Publications 6, Jerusalem: Israel Antiquities Authority, 2007, p. 29. pdf</ref>

Robert Cargill argues that the theory suggesting Qumran was established as a Hasmonean fortress is not incompatible with the theory proposing that a group of Jewish sectarians reoccupied the site. Cargill suggests that Qumran was established as a Hasmonean fort, abandoned, and later reoccupied by Jewish settlers, who expanded the site in a communal, non-military fashion, and who were responsible for the Dead Sea Scrolls. <ref>Cargill, Robert R., Qumran through (Real) Time: A Virtual Reconstruction of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls, Bible in Technology 1, Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2009.</ref><ref>Cargill, Robert R., “The Qumran Digital Model: An Argument for Archaeological Reconstruction in Virtual Reality and Response to Jodi Magness,” Near Eastern Archaeology 72/1 (2009): 28-47.</ref>

Recent scientific evidence published by Ira Rabin, Oliver Hahn, Timo Wolff, Admir Masic, and Gisela Weinberg demonstrates that the ink from The Thanksgiving Scroll uses water taken from the Dead Sea and vicinity thereby demonstrating a link between the Dead Sea region and at least some of the scrolls.<ref>Rabin 2009, 97-106.</ref>

Paleographer Ada Yardeni <ref>Yardeni, Ada, "A Note on a Qumran Scribe." In New Seals and Inscriptions: Hebrew, Idumean, and Cuneiform, ed. Meir Lubetski, 287-298. Hebrew Bible Monographs 8. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2007 </ref> analysed and listed dozens of manuscripts from most of the caves (1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, and 11) that she assigns to a single scribe who she refers to as a "Qumran scribe". Yardeni cautions against claims of scribal hands being as many as 500 and claims that the manuscripts are a cross-section of then-current literature from many distant libraries, deposited in a short time.

Gila Kahila Bar-Gal, <ref>Bar-Gal, Gila Kahila, "Principles of the Recovery of Ancient DNA--What it Tells Us of Plant and Animal Domestication and the Origin of the Scroll Parchment," in Bio- and material cultures at Qumran: papers from a COST Action G8 working group meeting held in Jerusalem, Israel on 22-23 May 2005 / edited by Jan Gunneweg, Charles Greenblatt, and Annemie Adriaens. (Stuttgart: Fraunhofer IRB Verlag, 2006) 41-50</ref> some of the skin used for the Dead Sea scrolls came from the Nubian ibex, whose range did not include Jerusalem, but includes the Hermon and Golan heights, the Negev highlands and the western shore of the Dead Sea.

Introduction to the archaeological site

(Click each thumbnail to view the photo.)

Image:Kuneran3.jpg
Across the plateau to the settlement.

1. Looking east from the Qumran gorge, the small structure on the upper left amid the trees contains the modern Qumran visitor's center. The ruins of Qumran can be seen immediately to the right. The settlement was built close to the seaward side of a plateau. The Dead Sea forms a hazy backdrop. To the extreme right is the Wadi Qumran, a torrent which is dry most of the year. On the few occasions when it rains though it becomes a ravaging torrent which has eroded the side of the plateau on which Qumran is built. From the mid-left the remains of an aqueduct can be seen running down to the settlement. This channel helped furnish Qumran with a valuable supply of water. At the end of the outcrop in the center of the picture is Cave 4, the location which supplied the vast bulk of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Image:Qumran.jpeg
Classic view of Cave 4.

2. This is another view of Wadi Qumran taken from the esplanade abutting the southern side of the Qumran settlement. Cave 4 can clearly be seen. It is an artificial cave cut into the cliff face by men. Several hundred scrolls were found in the cave. It was found and opened up in the twentieth century by local bedouin who had been searching for scrolls. Behind the cave on the cliffs the upper course of Wadi Qumran can be seen as it cuts its way down toward the wadi floor.

Image:Khirbet Qumrān 2.jpg
A first view of Qumran.

3. Coming up from the visitor's center one comes to the corner of the tower. What we see to the left is mainly the buttressing for the tower. This marks the north-western corner of the main building. Ahead is a modern walkway which allows visitors to walk through the site and see some of the complexities of the water system. Behind the walkway on the right one can see the aqueduct that brought rainwater down into the site. In the central distance one can see the Qumran gorge.

Image:Qumran citerne locus 110.jpg
The area between the two buildings.

4. This photo was taken from the walkway. The southern end of the main building can be seen at the top left. The main channel snakes its way through the settlement—here around the round cistern before bending south eastwards. This round cistern was originally constructed during the Iron Age, making it one of the oldest structures at Qumran. Note also the arch cut into the stone on the central left: this fed water down into a stepped cistern (L117) behind it. The canopy in the distance is where photo #2 was taken.

Image:Israel Qumran BW 4.JPG
Looking west over the water system toward the cliffs.

5. Looking down from the tower westward one sees a worker's installation which may have been the bottom of a kiln (or some other structure than needed heating from beneath). To its left there is a flat area which marks the entry point for a stepped cistern (L117) which is further left. (The steps can just be made out as they descend leftwards.) The main water channel can be seen before the walkway. Behind the walkway are the ruins of the western building. Further behind is the aqueduct which brought rainwater down to the settlement.

Image:Qumran L30 scriptorium.jpg
The so-called "scriptorium". (L30)

6. Looking from the tower southward one sees a long narrow room built against the inner wall of the western wing of the main settlement. Here, de Vaux discovered two inkwells and plastered elements he interpreted as benches or tables on which to write. The largest one, upon being reconstructed, measured 5 meters in length, 40 centimeters in breadth and only 50 centimeters in height.<ref>de Vaux 1973, p.29.</ref> These benches (or tables) had fallen through the floor above when the ceiling collapsed. De Vaux referred to this room above as the "scriptorium" and concluded the Dead Sea Scrolls could have been written here, but not all scholars agree with this interpretation. Nearly all scholars, however, conclude that some from of writing took place here on the upper floor of Locus 30. Several ostraca, including a practice alphabet, have been found in and around the site.<ref>Lemaire 2003 catalogues a number of ostraca. Magen 2006 (p.72) refers to ten more.</ref>

Image:Israel Qumran BW 5.JPG
A stepped cistern. (L56/58)

7. Looking east toward the Dead Sea: this stepped pool is located immediately south of the main building but within the main southern wall. It was originally one long pool before an internal wall separated it into two, making the western half (L56) like most other stepped pools on the site. The eastern side (L58) was excavated and a much deeper storage cistern was created. The original pool took fullest advantage of the sloping location, requiring only minimal excavating for the capacity. This pool came into existence some time after the Qumran water system was raised. This raising allowed water to be carried further and opened up the possibility for a much bigger storage capacity on the site. The southern end of the main building can be seen to the left. Between it and the wall of the pool there is a channel which carried water to further stepped pools, L48/49 and L71.

Image:Qumran refectoire locus 77.jpg
Long room to the south of the main building. (L77)

8. Looking south-east one sees a long narrow room built against the main southern wall of the settlement on the left. (This location is south of #7.) The far end once featured pillars which gave de Vaux the idea that there was a second storey, though no traces were found of such a storey. This room was considered a "refectory" by de Vaux because an adjacent room, commonly referred to as a "pantry", contained over a thousand pieces of pottery. This pottery was thought by de Vaux to have been used for communal meals, though some have challenged this interpretation.

Image:Qumran Locus 86.jpg
The room with the 1000 ceramic items. (L86/89)

9. To the right (south) of #8. This location is commonly known as the "pantry". At the southern end of this room 708 bowls, 204 plates, 75 goblets, 37 terrines, 21 jars, 11 jugs, and other ceramic items were found by de Vaux, mostly neatly stacked. De Vaux believed that this crockery was used for meals in L.77, which he referred to as the "refectory". The southern end of the room had been walled off. The effects of an earthquake may be indicated by the fact that this wall had later collapsed over the pottery, crushing it and that the southern walls needed to be strengthened externally. During the last period at Qumran a water channel had been rerouted to pass immediately south of the northern wall, then, following the outer wall of L.77, it eventually supplied the large cistern (L.71). Another interesting find from the location was a bowl inscribed with the name "Eleazar". Note the remains of two pilasters. Their purpose is unknown, but they do not seem to have been load-bearing.

Image:Qumran miqveh est locus 48.jpg
The broken cistern. (L48/49)

10. One of the most interesting discovers at Qumran was the unearthing on the eastern side of the main building of this stepped cistern featuring a crack down the steps marking where the land dropped, apparently due to an earthquake. There is a channel further to the south which fed the largest of the Qumran cisterns which was broken at the same time by the same means. As that cistern was used in a late phase of the site, we can surmise that the cistern we see was also damaged then. Also of interest are the dividers that run down the steps. Some scholars have suggested that these served as partitions separating those entering the pool from those exiting, similar to miqva'ot (Jewish ritual baths) found near Jerusalem,<ref>Reich, Ronny, “Miqwa'ot at Khirbet Qumran and the Jerusalem Connection.” Pages 728-31 in The Dead Sea Scrolls: Fifty Years After Their Discovery. Edited by Lawrence H. Schiffman, Emanuel Tov, James C. VanderKam, and Galen Marquis, Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 2000.</ref> but not all scholars accept this interpretation. (Katharina Galor, who carried out the most complete analysis thus far of the Qumran water system, commented, "[f]rom a practical point of view, the interpretation of using the low divisions as a symbolic space divider does not make any sense."<ref>Galor 2003, p.304b.</ref>) The partitions may have served to aid in channeling water into the pool.

Image:Qumran L-71 pool.jpg
The Locus 71 pool.

11. Looking south one sees a long narrow pool dug into the southeast corner of the settlement. This is the last and largest pool in the water system at Qumran. This enormous structure could hold 300 cubic meters of water, a capacity which is more than all the other stepped pools combined.<ref>See Galor 2003 for capacities.</ref> During Period III, (i.e., after the Jewish War), a water channel was partially rerouted due to prior destruction in order to continue to fill this pool. Scholars debate whether it was a miqvah (Jewish ritual bath), a cistern, or a clay collection vat.


Notes

References

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