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Re: orion Solinus, Dio, Pliny
I agree with Russell Gmirkin that Solinus did not write that
Essenes worked with balsam; I merely noted that Solinus (unlike Pliny and
Josephus) discussed the two subjects in the same general section of his
But it is mistaken to write, as Russell Gmirkin did, that the use
of "infra" elsewhere in Pliny would be "irrelevant" if Pliny and Solinus
shared a source. If the ultimate source is M. Agrippa, then it is not
irrelevant that Pliny draws extensively on Agrippa. See, e.g., the
discussion of Agrippa and Pliny, and Pliny's extensive use of Agrippa, in
O.A.W. Dilke, Greek and Roman Maps (Ithaca: Cornell University Press,
1985). And see the Pliny sections where "infra" and "Agrippa" appear.
One could argue against the explanation I proposed as to why the
locations given in Solinus and Dio have been misunderstood; but this issue
was not addressed.
That Essenes used palm trees has long been known. DeVaux reported
palm wood, date pits, and palm leaves found in his excavation. The
unpublished work at Qumran by Y. Magen and A. Drori led them to claim (to a
newspaper reporter) to have identified a date press.
Furthermore, if one wishes to combine Essenes, a royal monopoly,
the habitation of Ein Gedi, and Dr. Hirschfeld's site, one would need to
address the datings. For example, is the dating of Dr. Hirschfeld's site
too late to match the account of Essenes in the time of Herod the Great?
That de Vaux made some mistakes, for instance in dating, is fairly
widely agreed. But, before dismissing de Vaux's reports, which some posters
on this list appear predisposed to do, it might be fair to read or reread
what he wrote, in this case. Archaeology and the Dead Sea Scrolls, page
134: "...palm trees [in the Ein Gedi area] were only able to grow on the
lower ground round the spring and the tell...At no time have there been any
palm trees growing further to the west on the rock cliffs. There is no site
above En-Gedi which is both isolated from human population and near to palm
trees where the Essenes could have lived."
Dr. Hirschfeld, to my knowledge, has not claimed that there were
palm trees at his site.