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orion date of scroll jars
Since Jodi Magness is not subscribed to Orion, please respond via private
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 29 Oct 1997 20:28:18 GMT
From: Jodi Magness <email@example.com>
Subject: date of scroll jars
Stephen Goranson kindly forwarded to me a message sent to the Orion list
by Greg Doudna, who questions my assertion that, "the presently available
evidence indiates that they [the scroll jars] are found only in Period II
contexts at Qumran..."
I would like to do my best to clarify this matter, although I am somewhat
handicapped by the fact that I am not in Boston this year (I am on leave
from Tufts, on a research fellowship at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington,
D.C.). Since all of my Qumran materials are in Boston, and the DO library
does not have a copy of the Humbert-Chambon volume, I cannot look up de
Vaux's field notes on Locus 2. I do, however, have a copy of a manuscript
that is forthcoming in the Qumran Chronicle, which contains some material
relevant to this discussion. With that in mind, let me try to respond to
1) Doudna seems to be using de Vaux's recently published field notes
(Humbert and Chambon) as a basis for attributing the jars to Period I.
This is dangerous because nowhere in the volume are elevations provided,
and since more than one living level was found in most rooms (but not
always are the same periods or phases represented), it is difficult to
know which floor level corresponds with which period. Furthermore, in the
appendix at the end of each locus (where the finds are listed by number),
the provenience of the finds is not provided (at best, sometimes there is
a notation that a find comes from a particular part of the room, or from
the "lower level" or "upper level"). But it is almost never possible to
correlate these notations with the various levels or floors within a room.
(This is one of the reasons I have been arguing that ALL of the material
from de Vaux's excavations at Qumran needs to be published ASAP). In some
cases, there are photographs of "scroll jars" (which de Vaux calls
"cylindrical jars in his notes), sunk into floors, as Doudna notes.
However, the photographs rarely provide a sound basis for attributing the
jars to a particular floor or phase within a room.
Also, because the jars tend to be sunk into the floors and cut through
different floor levels, it is difficult to know with which floor they
should be associated. Again, without having the Humbert and Chambon volume
in front of me, it sounds as though this might be a case where the jar was
sunk through the level of an earlier floor; its upper lip (which would
have been at the level of the contemporary floor), was apparently
associated with a later floor of the 1st century C.E. Also, although I do
not have the Humbert and Chambron volume in front of me now, I did go
through it very carefully when I wrote up my observations, and did not
come across any clear and unequivocal cases of a scroll jar being
associated with a pre-31 B.C.E. (or even pre-Period II) context.
2) Because of these problems, in my review of the contexts of "scroll
jars" from Qumran, I deliberately relied mostly on the attributions that
de Vaux published with the pottery in his preliminary reports in the Revue
Biblique. At this point, let me quote the appropriate passage from my
forthcoming article in the Qumran Chronicle:
"Another type that appears to be absent from Period Ib contexts at Qumran
is the "scroll jars," described by de Vaux as "cylindrical jars." All of
the published examples come from Period II contexts. Those published in
the preliminary reports seem to represent all the examples of this type
found at Qumran, since no other "cylindrical jars" are listed in the locus
descriptions in Humbert and Chambon. The scroll jars thus seem to belong
mainly, if not exclusively, to the first century C.E., though according to
de Vaux they were discovered in Period Ib and II contexts. In addition,
Bar-Nathan states that scroll jars are first attested at Jericho in
contexts dating to the reign of Herod the Great. On the basis of the
presently available evidence, it is impossible to determine whether scroll
jars first appeared at Qumran durin the reign of Herod of Great (that is,
in later Period Ib contexts), or after his death (in Period II)... In any
case, scroll jars are not attested at either Qumran or Jericho before 31
The footnote relevant to this passage lists all of the scroll jars
published so far from Qumran as follows:
"de Vaux, RB 60 (1953): Figs. 2:4, 7; 4:17; de Vaux, RB (61 (1954): Figs.
1:3; 5:2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9; de Vaux, RB 63 (1956): Fig. 5:14, 15.
According to de Vaux, scroll jars were recovered in both Period Ib and II
contexts; see de Vaux, "Archeologie," pp. 13-14 in Les Petites Grottes de
Qumran, DJD III, by Baillet, Milik, and de Vaux, Oxford, 1962. The only
possible evidence I could find for the presence of scroll jars in Period
Ib contexts (but post-31 B.C.E.) are in loci 80 and 120; see Humbert and
Chambon, Photograph 359 (L80); Figure XVI (plan of L120 in Period Ib)."
I hope that helps to clarify this issue. Obviously, it can only be
resolved when all of the material from de Vaux's excavations is published
and fully accessible. For this reason, I qualified my statements on this
matter by saying that, "the PRESENTLY AVAILABLE EVIDENCE INDICATES
The still unpublished evidence might indicate otherwise.
Sincerely, Jodi Magness