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orion Two questions.

I had two questions that I have heard only indirectly discussed but continue
to wonder about.  First:  "Why here?"  Second: "Was here a discrete place?"  

I assume that each person on this list could explain why her or she is at
Shefield, Quartz Hill, Duke, Beit Berl etc.  My question is: why was whoever
was at Qumran at that location as opposed to some other location?  Was it
outside the political reach of their opposition?  Was it in a political area
where they were protected?  Was it important to be east of Jerusalem rather
than west for a religious reason such as imitation of an earlier captivity or
exile?  Why not locate in the hills west of the site?

The second question relates to my efforts to draw a mental picture of what the
area around this location looked like in say 63 B.C.E. to 9 C.E.   I assume,
for example, that a reasonably accurate picture could be drawn of the area
between Jerusalem and Bethlehem during that time period.  The picture would be
much different than today.  What would a picture of the area between say
Jericho and Qumran look like during that period?  Josephus describes the area
near Jericho, the large irrigated plantation of palms, the palaces Herod
built, the arid hills to the west, etc.   Assume that one was walking from
Jericho to Qumran during the time period above.  After you left the southern
reach of the plantation, what would you pass through?  Is there any evidence
of other villages, towns, forts etc. between Jericho and Q.  Is it likely that
this area had other small farms or commercial establishments such as an Inn
for travelers?  Is their evidence of a network of roads or paths for
travelers?  Was Q part of the fabric of a larger social area, or was it
discrete and separate and apart as it appears to be today?

Mark Dunn