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Re: [ANE-2] Two Qumran articles/a reply

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  • Joe Zias
    In his review of two articles, David Stacey writes Gideon Avni makes an objective and wide-ranging look at the cemetery at Qumran ... Having read the same
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 29, 2009
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      In his review of two articles, David Stacey writes "Gideon Avni makes an objective and wide-ranging look at the cemetery at Qumran ... Having read the same article in Hebrew I would fine it neither objective nor far ranging. The problem with this article and many more, all written by archaeologists with no professional training in the world of physical anthropology whatsoever if their inability to judge sources. Avni and David both experienced archaeologists, like many othres trying to understand Qumran,  uses sources which are totally ignored and discredited by all physical anthropologists working in Israel. This is why they arrive at such conclusions. One expert source quoted  who along with others, did a reconstruction of the Qumran settlement even though he has never visited the region. In their reconstruction, they show irrigation systems irrigating the cemetery which was used to grow  food!!  Their attempt to show that the miqvot were not
      miqvot as there was no outlet is laughable as none of the miqvot in IL have an outlet. Their wide ranging article on the Qumran cemetery was peer reviewed and deemed unacceptable which is why them published it themselves.  
      The fact that for over 50 years archaeologists like Avni and a host of others were unable to tell the difference between a Qumran Bedouin burial and a non-Bedouin burial speaks volumes. When experienced physical anthropologists working in Israel viewed the material it was in less than a minute that they were able to tell the archaeologists and others that those east-west women, children and occasional male were intrusive and from the last 2-300 yrs. Carbon 14 data later confirmed the obvious and Avni is added to the long list of individuals trying but failing to understand basic anthropological principals.  They should not be faulted as we had asked in the 70's that all archaeologists have at least one or two courses in phy. anthro. it was refused. Aside from the pre-historians it was largely ignored and today we still pay the price when non-specialists try to understand what should have been obvious had they had the background.  In a way I find it
      both sad and amusing in that the religious fanatics here, harassing the archaeologists, for the most part can tell a Bedouin burial from a non-Bedouin burial. Perhaps the latter can teach the former some basics vis a vis what is obvious to all experienced IL anthropologists.
      Joe Zias

      Joe Zias www.joezias.com

      Science and Antiquity Group - Jerusalem
      Jerusalem, Israel

      --- On Sun, 11/29/09, dastacey62 <DAVID.STACEY63@...> wrote:

      From: dastacey62 <DAVID.STACEY63@...>
      Subject: [ANE-2] Two Qumran articles
      To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Sunday, November 29, 2009, 6:48 AM


      When Khirbet Qumran et `Ain Feshka Vol 2 was published in 2003 it was noticeable that the conclusions of Gunneweg and Balla, `Neutron analysis of scroll jars and common ware' (pp. 3-57), were markedly different from those of Michniewicz and Krzysko, `The provenance of scroll jars from Qumran in the light of archaeometric investigations' (pp. 61-99).
      Michniewicz has this year published a more detailed report Qumran and Jericho Pottery: A Petrographic and Chemical Provenance Study (published, in English, by Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland). He admits that `it must be emphasised that the conclusions formulated by the two teams were entirely different' (p. 25). He states that `Balla and Gunneweg's conclusions are corroborated neither by information about which elements were taken for statistical interpretation and which determined the division particularly strongly.... . nor by the reference data or statistical computation' (p. 26). Much of the book is taken up with chemical and geological data on which I have no expertise to comment.
      Amongst his conclusions, however, are that `it is certain that the clays of the upper part of Wadi Qumran were not the raw material of which the examined ceramics were made' (p. 140), and that `even assuming, after Magen and Peleg, that the Wadi Qumran deposit was indeed used for pottery making, it should be stressed that this is not a raw material dominating among the Qumran vessels' (p. 139. However he also states that `there are no clues that would allow even a part of the vessels to be ascribed to a workshop in Jericho or Qumran' (p. 142). As several kilns and wasters have been found at Qumran (and one small kiln in Jericho) this must mean that he has yet to discover a local source of clay. From the published data, it does not seem that he sampled the Lissan marl on which both Qumran and Jericho are built.
      He states that it is `highly probable' that the clays of Petrographic Groups II and III came from outcroppings in `Trans-Jordan, especially between the northern Dead Sea and Zarga and Eastern Samaria i.e. the north eastern part of the West Bank e.g. in Wadi Far'ah, Wadi el Malikh...' (p. 138). This is in the same general area as quarries (including the large underground one recently discovered by Adam Zartal) that are thought to be the provenance of the sandstone ashlars, column drums and capitals integrated into the Hasmonean and Herodian Palaces at Jericho, and at Masada, Rujm el Bahr etc. Does anyone know if kilns have been found in that area, or are we to assume that the clay was shipped to Qumran possibly together with building stones?

      In Cathedra 131 (March 2009, in Hebrew) Gideon Avni makes an objective and wide-ranging look at the cemetery at Qumran and concludes that it can not be assigned to any particular group but that it was used not only by those who lived at Qumran but also by nomadic people who visited the area perhaps before the Hasmonean period but certainly through the late Roman, Byzantine and Early Islamic periods.
      David Stacey
      Independant scholar

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