I'm glad to see your article presenting this argument is finally out. Your
argument on the aqueduct sounds very intriguing. I have been postpoing
completion of an article on Qumran as a Sadducee fortress until I could read it.
Unfortunately, the nearest library with DSD is half a state away, but when
I've had a chance to obtain it we can revisit this topic.
That said, it is important to take historical, literary and textual evidence
(the Qumran scrolls) fully into account alongside the archaeological data.
Most recent treatments of Qumran acknowledge an initial military phase of the
site which would qualify it as a minor fortress. Since a strong argument
can be made from Josephus that the fortresses were put under Sadducean command
in 76 BCE, this practically demands a Sadducee presence at Qumran starting
that date, which is consistent with the evidence of the scrolls.
Also, given that evidence for Essenes west of the Dead Sea is purely
literary and dateable only to 4 BCE in the sources, efforts to place them at Qumran
earlier appears a doubtful enterprise. Your suggestion regarding Essene
shepherds seems somewhat out of left field since Pliny specifically associates
them with palm agriculture.
Russell, 1. Do you have archaeological evidence for an expansion of
Qumran in 76 BCE? I have pointed out that Hasmonean Qumran consisted
only of a watch tower and an industrial area around the three
cisterns, L110, 117 and 118. The expansion only occurred with the
construction of the water channel that fed L91 and made the
construction of the so-called 'main' building feasible. This water
channel was, as was normal in occupied areas below the floor (not, as
believed by de Vaux, freestanding) and must be dated by the pottery
from L114 which can be no earlier than 31 BCE. I have published this
in a longish article in DSD 14,2 (2007) to which you should go for
the full details. If you disagree with this then you must point out
another major channel running above a floor in an occupied area in
any contemporary nearby site and/or a channel wich was free-standing
despite the fact that its walls are clearly built as retaining walls.
And it's no good shrugging this off, as does Magness, when she
writes 'The walls of the main aqueduct apparently did rise above the
floors of some of the rooms at Qumran. This seems to be true mainly
in the northwest...in the northwest...<WBR>' (note the use of t
and 'seem'). An implication is that the bowl from L86 is not from the
Hasmonean period but from the time of Herod as has also been pointed
out by Bar-Nathan (Jericho Pottery 203-204).
Perhaps you are trying too hard to connect everything to historical
A factor which, as far as I know, and please correct me if I'm wrong,
is not discussed in classical texts is the seasonal trans-humance of
flocks from the highlands down to the Dead Sea littoral to take
advantage of the early, though short lived, grazing. This had been
going on since time immemorial and may even continue until today (it
certainly still happened in the 1970s/'80s when we were excavating
Jericho). There is no reason to suppose that the iron age cistern did
not continue to collect water after the iron age buildings themselves
were no longer occupied. This water would have been invaluable for
the shepherds and their flocks who would have exploited it during the
several centuries when the site itself was unoccupied and would not
have stopped visiting when occupation recommenced. This was at a time
when the agricultural potential of Jericho was being expanded hugely
by bringing water long distances in 'expensive' aqueducts. The
agriculture was labour intensive and would have required a great
influx of workers who would have needed feeding and clothing.
The winter rain water that could be gathered at Qumran was 'cheap'
compared to Jericho but was insufficient for irrigating the rewarding
crops of balsam or dates. However it could be exploited for producing
less glamorous but, for the workforce, more necessary products. The
presence of flocks in the winter could not only supply seasonal
workers in Qumran with dairy food products but also the raw materials
for the production of wool, leather, glue etc. by industrial
processes which, like the production of ceramics was smelly, smokey
or both and best carried out well away from the general population.
(As one of the classical authors says that some Essenes were
shepherds perhaps some of the flocks brought to the vicinity of
Qumran were Essenes??) An article on the possible industries of
Qumran should appear (I hope) towards the end of this year.
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