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Re: orion date of scroll jars

I appreciate Jodi Magness's explanation of the basis for her Period 
II Qumran scroll jar dating argument, as well as the appropriately 
cautious tone.  All that Jodi says about the lack of sufficient information 
in Humbert and Chambon I agree with.  In one sense there is agreement 
on the status of all jars in locuses other than locus 2, namely that in 
every other case there is not information that enables us independently to 
verify that any of these jars were period II.  

On locus 2 there is a disagreement however.  This post is necessarily 
long but I hope its substantive content will merit attention.  In the 
following, RB is Revue Biblique, DV is De Vaux, Schw is De Vaux's 
1959 Schweich Lectures book (Eng.), HC is Humbert and Chambon 
1994 and JM is Jodi Magness.  To save space I translate directly from 
French to English.

Jodi (at a disadvantage, admittedly, from not having access to HC or 
her notes) asked if perhaps I was getting my locus 2 interpretation 
from HC, or if this might be a case of the mouth of the jar being at 
the next higher floor level (than the lowest, period I, floor level), 
i.e. of some misunderstanding.  Neither of these is the case. 

The locus 2 information is in RB 1953: 90-94 and the description is 
plain.  Elevation levels are given.  According to DV's description, on 
the lowest floor level, which was paved, there was a jar sunk in the 
ground, with the top lip of the jar flush with the paved floor, and a slab 
or square covering the jar--and the slab or square made of the same material 
that the floor was made of.  There is no question that this is the lowest 
floor level on the basis of De Vaux's information.  This is clear in RB but 
is made explicit in HC, 292, with the note under Locus 2, "March 28, 1955.  
Two soundings to verify that there was not any lower floor."

This was the (a) lowest floor, with (b) a jar exactly like the scroll 
jars buried with an open top flush with the floor, and covered with a 
slab of the same paved material as the floor, (c) that De Vaux said, 
in RB 1959:6-7 was built 1B.  

It follows this is a jar that appears to have been installed at the 
time of installation of the earliest floor.  This is not based on missing 
information but is based on exact information that is given.  (HC also 
has a photograph of the jar and its covering slab in situ.)  Here 
are both the RB 1953 and the HC 1994 versions of the account of the 

     RB 1953: "A piece especially important is the jar of Fig. 2, 4,
     found intact and buried in the ground at the northwest corner of 
     room 2.  It was empty and covered by a slab (or square) of 
     chalky bituminous substance which covered the paved floor.  It 
     is identical to those which were recovered from the first cave of the
     manuscripts and which were found in great number in other caves
     explored in 1952 in the region of Qumran."

     HC 1994 (DV's notes): "In the northwest corner, a level of 
     pavement destroyed in this place, a cover of bituminous stone covers
     a jar buried up to the edge . . . the jar appears contemporary 
     with the paving".

To put it succinctly: this looks like a period I jar installation.

The remainder of the jars do not have this kind of information in 
published form, as Jodi notes.  Jodi seemed to agree that no assignations 
of these jars at Qumran to period II were verifiable independent of 
DV's own published labeling of jars as I or II.  Jodi said that she 
relied upon the attributions of De Vaux of jars to II in early RB reports.  
This raises sensitive points on two levels.  First, De Vaux's attributions 
were subjective and not based on stratigraphy in perhaps most cases 
(this is not conjecture but demonstrable), and the degree of circularity 
that has contaminated these datings is immense.  Second (and bearing 
again in mind that Jodi is working without notes) there are a number 
of mistakes on the level of Jodi's reporting of De Vaux's attributions.  

Jodi wrote:
> 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.
To begin with most of these are not scroll jars.  Jodi has listed 
large jars.  The majority of these jars were never found in caves 
or in association with texts, were never called by De Vaux or 
anyone else "scroll jars", and there is no basis for including 
them in a list of "scroll jars".  Comments on individual items:

Fig 2.4, this is the Locus 2 "scroll" jar type--Period I (as argued 
Fig 2.7 (Loc 1) not a scroll jar.
Fig 4.17.  not a scroll jar.  De Vaux identified this as a vase.
Fig 1.3 (loc 52) not a scroll jar
Fig 5.2 (loc 28) not a scroll jar
Fig 5.3 (loc 45 [the pottery annex]) YES, this is a scroll jar ("one 
  of the type of the jars of the cave but very tall"--HC, 307).  De 
  Vaux in 1954 assigned this to period II.  The period II attribution was 
  incorporated into Lapp 196, dated as II (Lapp's Types 14.1 and 14.2). 
  DV's attribution to II was not from stratigraphy but rather from 
  thinking that the pottery annex was built in II.  But in RB 
  1956: 541, DV wrote: "The triangular annex of the southwest, which 
  spread from locus 44 toward the south, had been dated to Period II.  
  The complete excavation and the ceramics which are in it makes its 
  construction in 1B."  Though there is not certainty, this scroll jar 
  looks like Period I.
Fig 5.4 (Loc 13).  YES, a scroll jar.  Assigned by DV to Period II in 
  RB 1954 with 8 other large jars on the same page.  No stratification 
  information given for any of these period assignments.  Six of the 
  other eight jar period assignments later changed by DV in RB 1956 to 
  Period I (see above point on the pottery annex).
Fig 5.7 (loc 17), not a scroll jar
Fig 5.8 (loc 45), not a scroll jar, in any case changed by DV to 1b in RB 1956.
Fig 5.9 (loc 44), not a scroll jar, in any case changed by DV to 1b in RB 1956.
Fig 5.14 (loc 126), this is a vase, not a scroll jar.
Fig 5.15 (loc 61), this is a vase, not a scroll jar.  After a dating of this item 
  to II termed "certain" by DV in RB 1956, DV reported in RB 1959: 248 
  after encountering another vase exactly like it at Ain Feshka in 1st BCE: 
  "this piece [the vase at Qumran] was found in the deepest layer of a 
  room which was utilized in both periods and it is possible it 
  pertains to Period 1b."

This is the total inventory of items which were cited as the basis 
for the claim that "presently available evidence indicates that they [the 
scroll jars] are found only in Period II contexts in Qumran".  

In fact no presently available evidence indicates the existence of 
any jar of this type in a Period II context in Qumran.   
Presently available evidence does indicate a dating of at least one 
of this type of jars, that of locus 2, to the start of Period I.

I fully agree with Jodi that further information may change this 
picture, and join Jodi in lamenting the lack of publication of the 
remaining information from the De Vaux excavations.  (Jodi spoke 
courageously and forcefully in Jerusalem on this issue, and I can 
only agree.)  If information were to come forth to attest a scroll 
jar at the site of Qumran in the 1st century CE, then it would be 
available to support the scenario of a 68 CE deposit date for the 
scrolls in the caves.  But such a claim does not seem to be in the
existing information, the information we have.    

Greg Doudna