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orion Qumran habitation

Virgil Brown writes:
> 	Now let me throw in another variable: Murphy-O'Conner wrote that 
> the continuity of the pottery type and the use of the room indicates that
> the same group occupied the Qumran site in periods Ib and II.

I think this is one of the most improbable of all scenarios that one 
could imagine for Qumran.  I am not sure first of all that the 
alleged continuity of pottery types is as certain as De Vaux thought. 
Second, the period Ib, II, et al appears almost wholly hallucinatory 
to me.  J. Magness took me to task for speaking of "Period I" for the 
first habitation period.  I used Period I because I agreed with JM's 
argument in Jerusalem this summer that there is no IA.  Without a IA, 
I reverted to De Vaux's use of "period I" in RB 1954, before De Vaux 
created IA and IB in 1956.  JM's preferred "pre-31 BCE IB" does not 
seem good to me, not simply for being cumbersome to say repeatedly, 
but more specifically because it assumes a superstructure of periodization 
which I do not find at all convincing.  

A less-inaccurate picture of Qumran's habitation history (not 
counting early Israelite period and the later brief Bar Kochba settlement) 
seems to me to go something like this:
       Building of site by Alexander Jannaeus (103-76 BCE) as part of
projection of control of both sides of Dead Sea region, following the 
arguments of Bar-Adon.  (Bar-Adon suggested JHyrcI built it, but 
AJ seems more likely to me on the basis of coins and ancient historians.)  
This is the true flourishing of the site, maximum capacity, all 
structures in use, probably nearly everything substantial at Qumran 
from this time.  As one of the Hasmonean installations or fortresses, 
occupancy could of course change hands as often as garrisons were 
replaced or political changes occurred.  (It has occurred to me that
Pliny's Essenes could be a later legend of inhabitants from this period.)  
This period ENDS with Roman arrival in Palestine and forced evictions 
and destructions of fortresses, 63 BCE and 55 BCE.
     After this, there is a blank period of unknown history at 
Qumran lasting until mid-1st CE.  Very possibly Qumran was uninhabited 
for decades following Roman arrival, and later, early Herodian period 
and then 1st CE, unknown groups of people, refugees, revolutionary 
groups, perhaps briefly a Herodian manor attempt, who knows.  Groups 
coming in and going, with very little way to know from the 
archaeological record.  There is evidence that someone was at the site 
in 8 BCE because someone buried a hoard of coins c. that year, but this 
says nothing as to a beginning or ending or length of a habitation period.
     In the 60's CE (and unknown length of time earlier than this 
is possible, but not necessary) there is substantial activity at Qumran, 
people, and finally a fire level c. 68-73 CE, and (though Meshorer 
has challenged this) perhaps brief rebuilding and habitation following 
the fire, ending c. 73 CE.

There is no basis in the evidence that I can see to assume continuity of 
a single group from early 1st BCE to the 1st CE, to assume two long 
major periods of habitation, or to put more specific dates on habitation 
periods other than an AJ-55 BCE phase on one end and the 60's CE 
on the other end (and a moment in time attested at 8 BCE).  Continuity 
of a single group through all of this seems to me so seriously improbable 
that it does not seem to me to merit even the status of reasonable 

Greg Doudna