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Re: Qumran location as a military installation (fwd)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 5 Mar 1996 18:21:02 EST
From: Paul V. M. Flesher <PFlesher@uwyo.edu>
To: Multiple recipients of list <ioudaios-l@lehigh.edu>
Subject: Re: Qumran location as a military installation

Dear Ian,
Although I certainly do not claim to be an expert on Qumran, let me respond
to a couple of your questions.
> If it had a military
>purpose it would probably be related to surveillance. I think one of the
>structures found not too long ago was considered to be the base of a
>watchtower, wasn't it?

It is true that De Vaux saw a two story building at Qumran.  However, it is
not clear that it was a "watchtower."  It may have been a tower--i.e., a
square building with one room on each floor--but De Vaux also thinks that
the "scriptorum" was on a second floor.  This would suggest that there was
either another two-story buildling (assuming he was correct) or that the
first building was not a tower at all.  Also, the fact that little in the
way of military artifacts were found at the site during the key periods
suggests that no military personel were stationed there.

>>So I find the argument that the Qumran
>>archaeological remains had a military purpose throughout its history simply
>>to be unsupportable.
>Is it any less supportable than the religious establishment thesis? Were
>there any signs of implements for writing in the "scriptorum"?

Actually there were ink wells in the scriptorum.   But of course there are
numerous other reasons for questioning De Vaux's identification of this

>I would be interested in hearing the results of any analysis that can come
>up with anything solid about the purpose of the complex.
>I would also be interested in any indication other than proximity that
>relates the documents to the complex. (You might think that the talatat used
>for filling the pilons at the Karnak Temple came from a nearby structure,
>but in fact they came from a temple over a hundred kilometers away at

However, the major caves (such as 4) are within about 30 yards of the
settlement and the texts date to the same time as the site was occupied.
Any alternate explanation has to explain why, out of all the huge Judean
Desert, the scrolls would have been placed so close to this out-of-the-way
settlement and why the people at the settlement would have let that be

>Ian Hutchesson


Paul V. M. Flesher
Religious Studies
University of Wyoming
Laramie, WY  82071-3353