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What’s inside? Sealed jar discovered at Qumran – site of Dead Sea Scr

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Author Topic: What’s inside? Sealed jar discovered at Qumran – site of Dead Sea Scr  (Read 86 times)
Mychal
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« on: December 11, 2010, 08:13:20 pm »

A jar of gypsum

The scientists used a wide variety of analytical techniques to determine what is inside the jar. One of the techniques uses x-rays to search for crystalline material – the test succeeded in identifying a substance. “Based on this analysis, it is evident that the only significant crystalline phase in the deposit is gypsum,” the scientists write.

Also found in the jar was a small amount of charcoal. They were able to radiocarbon date it, determining that the coal was used sometime between 100 BC and AD 15, a period when Qumran would have been inhabited.

After determining that there were no other materials in the jar the scientists focussed their work around a new question – why would the inhabitants of Qumran seal gypsum inside a pottery vessel?

“The most straightforward hypothesis is that Jar-35 was a storage and transport jar for gypsum,” writes the research team. “Perhaps the gypsum was intended for lining the cisterns of Qumran.”
It seems possible. Gypsum is a soft mineral that can be used to make plaster – something which there is plenty of at Qumran.

Archaeologists Yuval Peleg and Yitzhak Magen have conducted extensive excavation work at the site. At one point they say that the residents turned Qumran’s stables into pools. “Two of the entrances,” Peleg and Magen write in a report, “were sealed and plastered and the space was divided by low, plastered walls into six shallow pools.”

They also note the presence of plastered floors, plastered water channels and even a partly plastered aqueduct. “Upstream in Nahal Qumran, an aqueduct – partly constructed and plastered and partly rock-cut – drew water from the stream.”

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