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Re: animal bones found at Qumran

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  • kessler_paul
    A number of points need to be made here. (1) It has been pointed out that some bones were stored in pottery. (2) The idea that these bones were buried for a
    Message 1 of 6 , Jan 1, 2008
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      A number of points need to be made here.

      (1) It has been pointed out that some bones were stored in pottery.

      (2) The idea that these bones were buried for a religious purpose is
      pure speculation -- certainly there is no textual passage that
      describes Essenes or other sectarians as storing bones in pottery.

      (3) If one seeks a pragmatic explanation for the stored bones, the
      first point that comes to mind is that the people who stored them
      planned to USE them at a later point in time. The question then
      arises, what were the possible uses of bone.

      (4) Two explanations readily come to mind:

      The first is that the bones were used in the production of pottery.
      As is well, known, bone china is made of ground bone. A quick google
      search for "ground bone pottery" turns up the fact, for example,
      that "bone-tempered pottery is commonly found at Late Prehistoric and
      historic sites in both south and central Texas." I'm not an expert
      on pottery production in the ancient Near East, but clearly, given
      the large-scale production of pottery going on at Qumran, one needs
      to answer the question whether the stored bones could possibly have
      been intended to be used as part of that process, before turning to
      some far-fetched solution based on speculation about religious
      rituals.

      The second explanation is that the bones, again ground, were to be
      used in the production of cosmetics, as this is another well-known
      industrial use for bone. Here again, I'm not an expert, but I do
      recall reading somewhere (was it in Donceel?) that cosmetics were
      found and/or produced at Qumran, so obviously this question too needs
      to be addressed.

      (5) One final comment. I'm sure Joe Zias will correct me if I'm
      wrong, but to the best of my knowledge these basic questions were not
      even addressed by the experienced "biblical archaeologists" who found
      these bones. Instead, they came up with an outlandish, ritualistic-
      based hypothesis, freely speculating to make up for the absence of
      even a shred of concrete evidence to back it up. And now, following
      the publication of the Magen and Peleg report with its focus on
      pottery, they continue to insist that these bones somehow indicate
      that the site was inhabited by a religious sect. Surely this poses a
      fundamental issue regarding the power exercised by the Qumran-Essene
      theory over the imaginations of such researchers, apparently to the
      point of blinding them to what's right there in front of them.

      Paul Kessler (New York, NY)


      --- In ANE-2@yahoogroups.com, Joe Zias <joezias@...> wrote:
      >
      > GD writes on those animal bones buried in Qumran the following:
      > "There is no need to invoke sectarian reasons for whythese
      bones would be enclosed in pottery and buriedin the ground rather
      than left lying out in the open.Keeping rodents or larger vermin away
      is a fullysufficient explanation." I repeated this argument in G.
      Doudna, _4Q Pesher Nahum: ACritical Edition_(Sheffield Academic
      Press, 2001), pp. 730-731.
      >
      > If your reasoning is correct they why not use the same logic for
      Jericho, Masada, Ein Gedi, ...the list is long with nary a find and
      why bury them in a ceramic bowl, wasting the bowl. If you wish to
      keep the animals away, better dig down 2 meters like those buried in
      the cemetery and then cover them up with a stone pile, unless you do
      so, the hyenas will dig them up in a minute, or simply toss them in
      the steep wadi below. As to why they buried them, the question is an
      open one, but predation is not one of the possibilities.
      >
      > Joe Zias
      >
      >
      > Joe Zias www.joezias.com
      > Anthropology/Paleopathology
      >
      > Science and Antiquity Group - Jerusalem
      > Jerusalem, Israel
      >
      >
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
    • dastacey62
      ... I am not sure that the bones need to be ground - just boiled up (think bones to thicken soup). Again I am not sure of the precise techniques but boiling up
      Message 2 of 6 , Jan 2, 2008
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        > The second explanation is that the bones, again ground, were to be
        > used in the production of cosmetics, as this is another well-known
        > industrial use for bone. Here again, I'm not an expert, but I do
        > recall reading somewhere (was it in Donceel?) that cosmetics were
        > found and/or produced at Qumran, so obviously this question too needs
        > to be addressed.

        I am not sure that the bones need to be ground - just boiled up (think
        bones to thicken soup). Again I am not sure of the precise techniques
        but boiling up bones and off-cuts of hide (e.g. ears) can produce not
        only gelatin - useful for the production of cosmetics - but also glue.
        If some animals were slaughtered at Qumran, then bones would have been
        a valuable bye-product. Apart from its use in carpentry glue may have
        been used in the preparation of a writing surface on parchment.
        However, as far as I know (and perhaps some one out there has more
        expertise) such use of glue on parchment is only known from the
        medieval period onwards.

        David Stacey
        UK
      • Trudy Kawami
        .Animal bones have many uses including ivory-like combs, ornaments & inlay. For these purposes the bones need to be cleaned, dried & aged. Keeping them in
        Message 3 of 6 , Jan 2, 2008
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          .Animal bones have many uses including ivory-like combs, ornaments &
          inlay. For these purposes the bones need to be cleaned, dried & aged.
          Keeping them in ceramic jars would not accomplish this. Bones for glue &
          gelatin are boiled out when they are fresh, so there would be no need
          for jars to bury them in. Bones have been used in ceramic production but
          not in the area & period under consideration. Bone china is another name
          for porcelain, a ceramic body unknown, even in China, at this period.

          There may well be an industrial purpose for the jars of bones, but it is
          not the above. By the way, which bones were saved? Long bones, joints,
          ribs? And what animal(s) did they come from? All bones are not equal and
          the answer to these questions could point to a meaning/use.

          Trudy Kawami_



          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • dastacey62
          Trudy. According to Zeuner (Notes on QUmran PEQ 1960) the bones were mainly of sheep or goat with a few from cows. Most were found buried under large sherds or
          Message 4 of 6 , Jan 2, 2008
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            Trudy. According to Zeuner (Notes on QUmran PEQ 1960) the bones were
            mainly of sheep or goat with a few from cows. Most were found buried
            under large sherds or in broken cooking pots, a few in complete
            cps."many must have gone into the jars as fragments." "All contained
            odd bones or articulated fragments only" The majority contained
            various bones from one animal but some from as many as four. "The
            maximum number of identifiable bones of any one specimen was twenty-
            two." "Where an individual was evidenced by one or two bones only,
            these were nearly always metapodials, bones on which there is no
            flesh to eat."
            It would appear from this that the bones were broken down and boiled
            up in the cps, a number of which were cracked possibly from the heat
            of the fire. Any odd bits of hide which may have been included
            originally did not survive (or escaped identification - as far as we
            are told no analyses were carried out to try to identify hide/hair).

            The production of glue seems probable to me.

            David Stacey
            UK

            --- In ANE-2@yahoogroups.com, "Trudy Kawami" <tkawami@...> wrote:
            >
            > .Animal bones have many uses including ivory-like combs, ornaments &
            > inlay. For these purposes the bones need to be cleaned, dried &
            aged.
            > Keeping them in ceramic jars would not accomplish this. Bones for
            glue &
            > gelatin are boiled out when they are fresh, so there would be no
            need
            > for jars to bury them in. Bones have been used in ceramic
            production but
            > not in the area & period under consideration. Bone china is another
            name
            > for porcelain, a ceramic body unknown, even in China, at this
            period.
            >
            > There may well be an industrial purpose for the jars of bones, but
            it is
            > not the above. By the way, which bones were saved? Long bones,
            joints,
            > ribs? And what animal(s) did they come from? All bones are not
            equal and
            > the answer to these questions could point to a meaning/use.
            >
            > Trudy Kawami_
            >
            >
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >
          • kessler_paul
            I only referred to bone china in the course of making a point; I also referred to prehistoric and historic bone-tempered pottery found in Texas. If people
            Message 5 of 6 , Jan 2, 2008
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              I only referred to bone china in the course of making a point; I also
              referred to prehistoric and historic bone-tempered pottery found in
              Texas. If people living in what is today Texas had, in prehistoric
              times, discovered that ground bone could be used to temper pottery,
              surely one must inquire whether pottery-makers living at Qumran also
              knew of this trick and employed it. In addition, from what I
              understand ground bone is also used in various cosmetics.

              I hope people will agree with me that these (and other similar)
              avenues of inquiry make better sense than leaping to the conclusion
              that since the inhabitants of Qumran stored some animal bones in
              jars, therefore they were religious sectarians.

              Paul Kessler (New York, NY)


              --- In ANE-2@yahoogroups.com, "Trudy Kawami" <tkawami@...> wrote:
              >
              > .Animal bones have many uses including ivory-like combs, ornaments &
              > inlay. For these purposes the bones need to be cleaned, dried &
              aged.
              > Keeping them in ceramic jars would not accomplish this. Bones for
              glue &
              > gelatin are boiled out when they are fresh, so there would be no
              need
              > for jars to bury them in. Bones have been used in ceramic
              production but
              > not in the area & period under consideration. Bone china is another
              name
              > for porcelain, a ceramic body unknown, even in China, at this
              period.
              >
              > There may well be an industrial purpose for the jars of bones, but
              it is
              > not the above. By the way, which bones were saved? Long bones,
              joints,
              > ribs? And what animal(s) did they come from? All bones are not
              equal and
              > the answer to these questions could point to a meaning/use.
              >
              > Trudy Kawami_
              >
              >
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
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