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Re: women at Qumran

On Fri, 3 May 1996, Paul V. M. Flesher wrote:

> A brief glance at the photographs of the graves shows all the bones intered
> in dirt (at least so far as I can tell from the xeroxes I am looking at).
> The photographs are ##442-477 in _Fouilles de khirbet Qumran et de Ain
> Feshkha_ vol. 1, J-B Humbert, 1994, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Gottingen.  I
> haven't had time to study the field notes for the tombs on pp. 346-352.

Thanks, Paul.  It seems to me that this whole discussion could use a 
check of the evidence, since it seems to have continued oblivious to the 
points I made based on de Vaux's report in _Archaeology and the Dead Sea 
Scrolls_.  I would conclude from this source that there is *no* connection 
between gender and the use of coffins.  In addition, as your observation 
would probably support, the use of a coffin is probably the exception 
rather than the rule, and there is no mention of nails.  The evidence of 
re-internment seems to be that the bones were found all jumbled up, with 
or without a coffin (de Vaux mentions one grave, apparently with male 
bones in the "ordered" part of the cemetery, in which the bones of two 
individuals were placed, apparently without a coffin, in the loculus of a 
standard grave).  It seems to me that no pattern exists in the evidence 
that de Vaux cites for reburial, and that the reasons we have been given 
so far are simply speculation.  

A final question:  I seem to remember an archaeologist specializing in 
human remains in a TV report on the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that buried 
Pompeii commenting that the gender of a human skeleton could not be 
determined with absolute certainty.  Does anyone know with what certainty 
we should be taking the reports of male and female remains in the graves 
at Qumran?

David Suter
Saint Martin's College