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orion Qumran/Oasis

    Ian Hutchesson responded to part of a missive of Stephen Goaranson's by
stating that "[t]he nearest [oasis to Qumran] is En Gedi."  I wonder if this
assertion is accurate.  Some months ago there was discussion about the
climate in the area of Qumran in the period about 200 B.C.E. to 100 C.E.  It
seems to me that I recall that the primary reason the level of the Dead Sea
was so much higher than it is today (a circumstance recently referred to by
Ian, I believe) was that the area was substantially wetter than it is today.
 This could account for some of the water available for bathing and, it
seems, would imply that the general living conditions were not so harsh as
now.  Moreover, it would seem logical that such a milder/wetter climate might
create a situation where persons living/stationed at Qumran might have had
"palm trees for company."  

Does anyone know of pollen studies or the like that might support the view
that the general locale of Qumran was more hospitable to occupation in the
period mentioned above. 

Mark Dunn