One of the problems with the Qumran cemetery is the fact that the overwhelming majority of the studies have been done, not by physical anthropologists but individuals from non-related fields. As a colleague once said, Qumran probably represents the worst that can happen to the profession which is rife with dilettantes, in fact, it may be the last refuge for those who view it as a ATM. Tell the public you work with the Dead Sea Scrolls/Qumran and their eyes glaze over and for some the topic has become a cash cow. A case in point is a documentary made last year in which the producers advertised on WNW.craigslist.com for a Qumran expert ! There is near total unanimity today among experienced physical anthropologists that there is but one woman there and that the women and children constantly being mentioned are but Bedouins from the Turkish period. I have said over and over that Qumran was in my opinion, one of the easiest sites in the region to understand. Listen to the
dilettantes and you will never understand the site.
The fact that the average at time of death in Qumran was ca 34 years is one of those examples whereby textual scholars miss the point entirely. The point being is that this figure is somewhat meaningless the way they express it in that the issue here is not 34 years, but the fact that they came there after 20 years of age. Given this data, we know today that many should have died in their 50's and the question here is why individuals living in nearby Jericho, same sex, period and ethnic group had a chance of making it to 40, 7 times greater than those in Qumran. At present I'm finishing up research dealing with the bio-cultural aspects of Qumran which in my opinion will show as I have always maintained that understanding the site is not in the realm of 'rocket science'. In fact, any student with 4 yrs of study in anthropology, will I believe understand it quite clearly. As for the women and children in the cemetery, once I saw the data, what was a 50 year old problem, was
clear within 30 seconds, I took an experienced physical anthropologist, half my age, to the site and he figured it out in 15. The toilet in locus 51, is another excellent example whereby scholars argue over and over for decades whether or not it was a toilet an oven or whatever. Instead of arguing over it why not just send a spoonful of earth from the locus to a parasitologist and examine it under a microscope. You find evidence of bread the 'tabun' folks win, human parasites, the toilet folks win. This is why, the oft repeated phrase that 'archaeology is anthropology, or it is nothing', rings true and why textual/biblical scholars find Qumran so hard to understand.
> wrote: To Peter Daniels, Jon Smyth, David Hall, et al.
I took the average age for adult bodies exhumed at Qumran. These are
in themselves questionable, as they are often given as +- 10 years
and vary from expert to expert. There is also much debate about some
being female, rather than male skeletons. Whatever figure we
determine there are serious difficulties in claiming high accuracy.
Jon Smyth had asked for an idea of life spans for adult males.
Would be interested in your suggested values.--------
As to copper imports, material was certainly being acquired from
abroad and mined in Sinai. I have yet to see isotopic comparables
for the Copper Scroll. If anyone has any figures, EDF perhaps?, that
would be very interesting and may confirm more precisely a possible
mined source for the Copper Scroll base material.
Highly unlikely the Qumranites made the copper material themselves,
but the Romans were again mining at Timmna during the period, so it
is possible the raw copper came from there - but I think it is more
likely that it was copper from Timmna mined in Egyptian times. The
real problem, and one few scholars want to address, is that copper
sheet of the composition we know pertained for the Copper Scroll is
not known from Second Temple times, or for hundreds of years before
that. I am not certain where they obtained their copper from, but
early Timmna is a good possibility.
Kyle McCarter and others suggest, and I agree, that the scribe
incising the Scroll must have been copying from another source.
There are many clues, inaccuracies, use of archaic terms, some
dating to 7th per 8th century BCE, and more critically very ancient
Egyptian numbering terms.
Whether the Qumranites carried blank sheets from Egypt, from Mosaic
times, acquired material from Leontopolis, or Elephantine, one
cannot be certain. Prior to 1996, no one seemed bothered to even ask
the kind of questions you are now asking, or look for an answer. I,
at least, have put forward some suggestions. If you look at the
literature it is erroneously assumed that people were regularly
using highly pure copper sheet for engraving. That is simply wrong.
Can anyone give an example of engraving on copper sheet in 2nd
Temple times? Everyone, by then, was using bronze, which took an
impression much more readily. In some places the copper sheet was
punched through by the scribe. It was an unsuitable writing medium.
Whatever made the Qumranites use it, thank heavens they did, because
it survived, and it is the key to much more than simply treasure.
PS. Especially for Brian Kibuuka, the Copper Scroll book is now
available in Portuguese, as 'Misterio do Pergaminho de Cobre de
Joe Zias www.joezias.com
Science and Antiquity Group @ The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
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