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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 88 times)
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« on: December 11, 2010, 08:15:52 pm »

Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls

More than 900 Dead Sea Scrolls have been found at Qumran. They include early copies of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), historical documents and community rules.

There is an active debate as to how they got to caves near Qumran. Whether this jar discovery has any impact on the discussion remains to be seen.

A bit of background on this debate:

Originally it was believed that a group called the Essenes lived at the site and wrote the scrolls. However recent archaeological work by Peleg and Magen suggests that the site was used as a military outpost by the Hamoneans starting around 100 BC. They were a dynasty of Jewish kings that ruled much of Palestine.

“Qumran was not a fortress capable of withstanding the assault of an attacking army, but rather a forward observation and supervision post that controlled land and sea traffic along the Dead Sea Coast,” the two archaeologists write.

According to their research the Hasmonean soldiers left Qumran around 63 BC, after the Romans arrived in the region. Civilians then took over the site and used it for pottery production. This civilian settlement lasted until about AD 70 when Jewish residents throughout Palestine revolted against the Romans. Jerusalem came under siege, with refugees fleeing the city.

Some of them headed south, until they came to Qumran and its harsh terrain. “Qumran is the last station,” Yuval Peleg said in an interview, done a year back. “The water came to the cliffs after Qumran.” They couldn’t bring the scrolls with them, so the people put them in caves before resuming their flight. They never returned.

Another idea, as to how the scrolls got to Qumran, comes from Robert Cargill, a researcher at UCLA who has created a virtual model of the site. He agrees that the site was first used as a military outpost and was later converted for civilian use.

He suggests, however, that these civilians wrote some of the scrolls found in Qumran’s caves. He points out that multiple inkwells have been found at the site. “Somebody was writing something at Qumran,” he said in an interview that took place a year back. Cargill also points out that some of the caves are located very close to the site. They “cannot be gotten through without going through the residence of Qumran.”

In addition to writing scrolls, Cargill suggests that Qumran’s civilians would have brought in examples from elsewhere in Palestine, building up a collection. When the Romans approached the site, just before AD 70, these people put them into caves and then fled.
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