Qumran in Wikipedia

Qumran (Hebrew: חירבת קומראן‎, Arabic: خربة قمران‎ - Khirbet Qumran) is an archaeological site in the West Bank. It is located on a dry plateau about a mile inland from the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, near the Israeli settlement and kibbutz of Kalia. The Hellenistic period settlement was constructed during the reign of John Hyrcanus, 134-104 BCE or somewhat later, and was occupied most of the time until it was destroyed by the Romans in 68 CE or shortly after. It is best known as the settlement nearest to the caves in which the Dead Sea Scrolls were hidden, caves in 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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3] 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. Discovery and excavation The site of Khirbet Qumran had been known to European explorers since the 19th century.[4] 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.[5] 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,[6] 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.[7] This discovery led to intensive excavations at the site over a period of six seasons under the direction of de Vaux. Chart of various proposed chronologies of Qumran.[8] 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, may be identified 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.[9] 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[10] and Yizhar Hirschfeld.[11] 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...

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