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dams, ink, and parchment

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  • David Hall
    There is a parking lot near Sde Boker within view of the Nabatean acropolis of Avdat. Down the trail is a cistern carved limestone on the side of a ravine.
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 3, 2009
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      There is a parking lot near Sde Boker within view of the Nabatean acropolis of Avdat. Down the trail is a cistern carved limestone on the side of a ravine. In order for water to flow into it, there must have been a low dam to divert water into it. Viewing photos of Negev cisterns, they sometimes had low angle ditches diverting water from the sides of the hills to the cistern openings in the rock. At Nabatean Mamshit near Dimona the Nabatean town is built on a hill and a very deep ravine with dam are immediately below the south edge of town. Around Shivtah were numerous barage dams and piles of stones where the sides of hills may have been cleared of stones to make sure all the seasonal torrents flowed towards terraced dams, cisterns, without being impeded by rocks. At the edge of Shivtah there is one of these dams in front of a flood irrigated terrace field. There is the largest wine press I have yet seen in Israel at this site. It has a double
      circular press and both presses are joined by conduit to a huge collection vat. It is an industrial size winepress. There is very little rainfall at Shivtah between Avdat and Nizzana, yet this huge wine was press bigger than the ones I saw near Emmaus/Canada Park where there was much rain. They like the residents of Qumran needed technology to overcome the arid nature of the place. If Herod had access to waterproof cement to build a harbor, perhaps some wise Jews were able to build a low dam to divert water to their cisterns and pools. If a dam washed out, they could rebuild it again.

      Parchement and leather were both cured with tannic acid. Some plants known to the Bedouin of old were better for tanning than others. The tanning preserved the hides and prevented rotting.

      Parchement technology: Graeco-Roman and Jewish


      Hides may have been from local flocks taken to the highlands in the winter. There was also lush vegetation at Ain Feshka nearby. Hides were also for sale in Jerusalem as the priests kept the hides of some of the sacrifices (Talmud). The Passover pilgrims kept the hides of their lambs that were butchered in the temple (Jeremias Joachim). While it is almost certain some DSS were brought from outside, it is also almost certain some were copied on the site. If there were extra scrolls made they may have been sold. Before the printing press, copying manuscripts was costly, and few could afford them, nor could everyone read.

      Bromine is in trace amounts in many waters. The one salty spring of Tabgha was diluted by numerous other sources of water entering the Sea of Tiberias. Modern chemical assays tested both presence or abscence of an element and relative percentages by weight of the elements in a sample. The Dead Sea bromine levels were many times higher than waters elsewhere in Israel, else there would be no Israeli Dead Sea chemicals companies.

      David Q. Hall
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