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Re: orion: Castor oil impact on C14 tests

Asia Lerner's post with analysis of outliers is well-reasoned 
and clear to me.  The question might be turned around though: if one 
gets a single 14C scrolls date that looks like an outlier, is there a 
good reason to accept it?

This does not have an easy answer.  As noted in previous posts, 
I deeply suspect the traditional notion of an extended scribal period 
of activity represented in the Qumran texts up to 68 CE is 
flawed.  I see no canon yet, what to me are overwhelming signs of 
contemporaneity in composition in the "yachad" texts, numerous 
historical allusions and internal references that appear to be 
early/mid 1st BCE, not one historical allusion or reference that can 
be dated post mid-1st BCE, and no convincing positive evidence 
for 1st CE text compositions or copies in the Qumran corpus.  

I have spent a lot of time thinking about how the existence of real 
1st CE text activity among the Qumran texts could be demonstrated.  
One way would be for a convincing internal reference argument but no 
one has come forth with one.  Therefore only external means are 
possible.  Cross says certain types of formal scripts among the 
Qumran texts are Herodian period, and named them, accordingly, 
"Herodian", but I have read his 1961 article at least six times and 
cannot find a sound basis for his putting those scripts that late. 
That palaeographic dating was not stronger than what would be 
called reasonable intuition, as distinguished from evidence constituting 
a basis for knowledge.  Furthermore, it leads to highly improbable 
implications, such as the notion that a scribe, writing in "herodian" 
script, filled in two missing lines of Isaiah that the original scribe, 
writing in "hasmonean" script, had inadvertantly omitted--after 
over 100 years of use of 1QIsa(a) before anyone noticed! 

But to turn to 14C, you are right that there is a real dilemma.  Even 
if most texts get 14C dates in the 1st BCE, as seems to be the 
pattern at present, a 1st CE date such as 4QpPs(a), or a 2nd CE date 
such as the first sample from 4QS(d), presents a problem in 
interpretation.  If one "knows" of a fixed latest date for the texts, 
whether this is an hypothesized mid-1st BCE or an hypothesized 
68 CE (or 135 CE, or whatever), this gives one interpretation of the 
outlying 14C date.  But there could, hypothetically, be a situation of 
a large cluster of text production and then smaller numbers of texts 
produced later that also end up in the same caves.  Everyone knows 
Milik and Laperrousez have a deposit of the Copper Scroll in Cave 3 
c. 100 CE or later--and in principle how can one exclude non-copper 
scrolls being intrusively deposited later in the same way? 

I have come up with one method--see what you think of this.  If the 
occasional scrolls 14C date that is "later" than most is really an outlier, it 
ought to be nonrepeateable, and disappear into the aggregate on a 
second or third measurement.  But if the "later" date is really a true 
later date, its later date ought to hold up under repeated measurements.  
This sounds simple, but there is an additional factor: if you have a 
contamination situation you need to get something from the same text 
that isn't contaminated--try a sample from a different area of the 
text to begin with--so that you don't risk measuring the same 
contamination twice (as may have happened with Zurich's 4QTQahat
date, measured twice with both measurements agreeing in being 
anomalously early).

But with 4QpPs(a) there is a way to get a real answer.  The scribe 
who wrote 4QpPs(a) also wrote 4QpIsa(a) and 4QpHos(a).  In the 
upcoming battery I have recommended to Fred, who is coordinating 
the arrangements, that we have samples from all three of these texts 
measured.  If all three agree with the 1st CE 14C date for 4QpPs(a), 
then there is some real information that this is not an outlier situation 
but a true 1st CE date.  And that would be the first evidence of such 
yet in Qumran scrolls study history. 
On the other hand, let us suppose these three pesharim texts, 
whose dates of skins we expect to be contemporary because it 
is the same scribe, give 14C dates in agreement with the 14C date for 
pHab, in the 1st BCE.  Then we would have a good reason to argue 
that the first 4QpPs(a) date, the 1st CE date, was, indeed, an outlier.  

This is consistent with A. Lerner's analysis so far as I can tell, and 
again thank you for the lucidity and clarity of the analysis. 
Greg Doudna