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orion Dating of Locus 2 jar
I have thought over carefully the comments of Jodi Magness on locus 2
and the dating of the large jar buried in the floor at that locus.
The locus 2 floor and the buried storage jar in one corner both had 1st
CE coins and were in use in the 1st CE. Yet the room is part of a
complex of rooms next to the main courtyard, with rooms above and
the "scriptorium" nearby, which no one has ever disputed was part of the
1st BCE building construction. All maps of Qumran's periods show
locus 2 interpreted as part of what De Vaux called 1B. De Vaux's Schweich
lectures, pp. 6-7, gives De Vaux's view on the 1B context of the building
construction of this area of Qumran.
The locus 2 argument is a very simple one: the installation of the
floor is dated to the time of building construction, c. early 1st BCE,
and the installation of the buried jar in the corner is dated to the
time of installation of the floor. Later inhabitants in the 1st CE in
many parts of the site reused some rooms and earlier building remains
of the site. This is simply one example of many in which this happened.
The coins and the moveable pottery in locus 2 either all, or mostly
all, come from the latest inhabitants, yes. But this jar installed in this
floor is not a moveable, like a coin or an oil lamp. It is a fixture, it is part
of the floor, it is part of the architecture.
One cannot date the installation of that jar by the coins found in it,
or the date of the floor by the coins found on it, any more than one can
date the building of a cistern at Qumran by the dates of coins found in
the cistern. The 1st CE use of the room, the floor, and the buried storage
jar in one corner of locus 2, like many other 1st CE uses of other parts
of the site of Qumran, establish no more than ad quem datings for the
dates of construction of these. These 1st CE coins date the latest people
to *use* those things. The 1st CE coins do not give the date of
*installation* of the fixtures. And we have other reasons to date
the installation of that floor earlier than the 1st CE. This is my
logic and my argument.
The only alternatives to this that I see are (a) to contest all
existing archaeological analysis of Qumran and deny the locus 2
region was built in period I (one might as well go on and deny
a period I to Qumran altogether); (b) assume use of a dirt floor for
all of 1st BCE and propose that the first floor in locus 2 was installed
a century after the room was built, in period II; or (c) assume the
floor was installed in period I, and period II people came in later,
used the same floor but tore a hole in the corner of the floor, sunk their
own jar in, and covered it with an unbroken slab with the same kind of
A simpler solution is that the 1st CE people simply used the room,
cleaned out debris, swept out the cobwebs, and made use of what was
there. They neither built the site, put in the floor, or installed the large
storage jar buried in that floor in one corner. They used all of these,
left their own coins and other items in the room, all of which was then
covered with a fire level in that locus (this fire level corresponds to
the c. 68 CE fire level in other locuses).
Since there is no positive evidence for a buried storage jar in any
other part of Qumran being installed as late as the 1st CE, and since
there is no positive reason to assume that the storage jar in locus 2
was not associated with the paved floor, or to assume that the paved
floor was not installed at the time of the building of the room . . .
the only reasonable analysis I can make of this is that this is a 1st BCE
jar installation which was reused, like so many other rooms and fixtures
at the site, by people in the mid-60's CE. It might also be noted that at
Ain Feshka there was only one buried jar found (not a scroll jar type) . . .
and it was in the earliest of two levels at Ain Feshka which De Vaux
considered to be the equivalent of Qumran Ib (RB 1959).
Additional comment: on the earthquake argument and the jar being
unbroken, I can't see this as a point. (Since the jar was found
unbroken in 1951, one could go on to argue that there were no
earthquakes at Qumran for the past 2000 years, but this is unlikely.)
An earthquake would shatter dishes on the surface which fall and clatter,
but this jar, it seems to me, can be analogized to dishes wrapped in
packing paper in a moving van which do not break. Buried in earth there
is nothing for that jar to fall against or shatter against, even if the earth is
moving. Therefore an earthquake factor does not seem relevant to me
in dating this jar's installation in the floor.
Again I, and I am sure all on the list as well, am very grateful to Jodi
Magness for taking the time to make the several posts she has done.
I understand now the clarification about the "scroll jar" type that
Jodi meant, and find the regional aspect of the attestations of this
general type intriguing and interesting.