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Re: Balsam

Etienne Nodet of Ecole Biblique recently referred me to Joseph Patrich and
Benny Arubas, "A Juglet Containing Balsam Oil (?) From a Cave Near Qumran,"
_IEJ_ 39 (1989): 43-59.

After going to the library at Ecole Biblique, having the article
photocopied, and then studying it, some of my questions still remain. Does
anyone know about the Belgium team currently digging at Qumran? And if so,
what are they finding that may further support the "medical and perfume
industries" theories? Is there any challenge to the scriptorium theory by
the balsam theory? When do their findings expect publication?

Also, a couple of new questions arise from reading the article. How certain
can we be, if at all, that the residue found is indeed balsam. The article
ended with inconclusive data, promising further scientific testings
(ongoing at the time of publication) to determine this. And, if balsam it
is, what is the possibility of finding balsam seeds for the now extinct
balsams that the residue would represent?

It seems to me that if the substance is indeed balsam, there are many
interest groups that would gain from such findings, not to mention the help
it would afford religious groups who are trying to get "back to the

Again, I admit my lack of expertise in this subject area and appreciate any
and all help, even in better formulating my questions. (Je vous remercie
beaucoup, Etienne!)

Hoping for further light on the path...
Having a profitable sabbatical at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem,
Dennis Stoutenburg (Ph.D., Strasbourg)