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orion scroll jars again
Another mssg from Jodi Magness. Please remember that she is not
subscribed to Orion.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 30 Oct 1997 12:24:55 -0500 (EST)
From: Jodi Magness <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: scroll jars again
Once again Stephen Goranson brought my attention to the ongoing discussion
regarding scroll jars on the Orion list. I will try to respond briefly to
Fred Cryer's comments. However, I do not wish to become much more involved
in this discussion, since I am trying to devote my time and energy to my
current research project at Dumbarton Oaks, which is unrelated to Qumran.
According to Cryer, it is naive to think that, "a pottery type which seems
to have been attested, if sparsely, in disparate sites in a large region,
should have existed for a considerable length of time..."
In fact, the scrolls jars seem to be confined to the Dead Sea region,
especially the western shore; the only published examples I know of come
from Jericho, Qumran, and Abila. They seem to be fairly common at Jericho,
although most of the examples illustrated in Rachel Bar-Nathan's M.A.
thesis are not the "classic" type, but instead are industrial variants
with much more globular bodies. There is only one example from Abila, and
Bar-Nathan also mentions (but does not illustrate) that examples were
found in Zealot contexts at Masada. I would expect that this type of jar
might turn up in the excavations that Yizhar Hirschfeld is currently
conducting at Ein Gedi. Thus, contrary to what Cryer says, these jars seem
to represent a type that is restricted to a rather small geographical
region. They are certainly not known from Jerusalem, for example, or from
Regarding matters of chronology, I never claimed that the caves provided a
basis for dating the jars (did Cryer misread what I wrote?). Of course
they don't. I won't repeat the information in my last message. However,
again I note that, based on the published information, scroll jars do not
seem to be attested in Period I contexts at Qumran.
By the way, regarding the supposed Locus 2 example of a scroll jar sunk
into a Period I floor, mentioned by Doudna, let me point out the
de Vaux found absolutely NO WHOLE VESSELS in his Period Ia. He certainly
would have noticed a whole jar sunk into a floor. Even if we assume that
Period Ia exists (which I don't believe), there is no evidence for
anything but a few, small potsherds from that phase of occupation.
The whole vessels from Period Ib mostly consist of vessels that were
smashed in the destruction of Qumran in 31 B.C.E. and again in ca. 9/8
B.C.E. The fact that the jar Doudna describes in Locus 2 is a whole jar
sunk into a floor, associated with coins of the first century C.E. (and
again, I don't have Humbert and Chambon to refer to here), does indeed
point to a first century C.E. date for the jar.
I cannot and do not wish to go into a long explanation on the principles
of basic archaeology and ceramic chronology. Anyone who wants to see how
pottery types are dated by archaeologists can look at my book as an
example (Jerusalem Ceramic Chronology circa 200-800 C.E., Sheffield,
1993). The principles I use to establish that chronology are universal.
I hope that this helps clarify this issue further. I would like to see
discussions regarding the archaeology of Qumran grounded in hard evidence,
to the extent that is possible. I also believe that de Vaux was at least a
competent field archaeologist; maybe not cutting edge for his day, but
also not a total idiot. His publications indicate that he knew what he was
doing, and I believe that they are reliable. We just need to have all of
the material from his excavations published.
Sincerely, Jodi Magness