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orion Cave 4 & red ink
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Stephen Goranson wrote:
> While various reasonable questions are being asked about Cave 4 (e.g.,
what were the wall holes for?), are you still denying that any of the
manuscripts in the eleven Qumran caves are
2000 years old? You and Neil Altman wrote that red ink on a few of the
manuscripts showed they are not that old. But contrary evidence has been
presented--red ink was used 2000 and more years ago. Do you accept that
Not to be too hard headed about this, but yes, we still dispute the age
of the scrolls and for a lot more reasons than the use of red ink 2,000
years ago. We may have to bow on the issue of red ink, but it will not be
on the basis of the piece Dr. Goranson recently cited in Archaeometry.
I am not a scientist, but we have consulted a top physicist at U. of
Pennsylvania who shall remain nameless for now but who agreed there were
huge contradictions, discrepancies and holes in that piece. The opening
paragraph states there are only four DSS fragments with red ink. The last
sentence in the report refers to a fifth that wasn't tested.
Funny, too, the DJD series contains photos of more than a dozen fragments
with red ink -- and some with green and blue ink that the Archaeometry
report fails to mention.
There are problems as well with the two charts showing the spectral
values. Four fragments were given one test, but only one fragment was
subjected to the more detailed analysis. Why?
Not being a scientist, I'd still like an explanation for why sulfur
doesn't seem to show up in the spectral analysis of ink that is supposed to
be mercury sulfide. Elements that are heavier and lighter than sulfur are
present, but not sulfur ... unless I missed something. Maybe this is a
really stupid oversight on our part having to do with the sulfur compound,
and we're open to an answer from someone who has closely examined the
charts in the report.
Lord knows, there's more, and I hope we can find the time to pick this
apart here or elsewhere. For my part, I genuinely appreciated being
directed to this report. Don't even mind being twice baited to answer
We certainly thought it strange, though, that there was an early mention
in the report of other colored inks but no reference to the fact that there
are multicolored inks used in the scrolls -- colors generally associated
with Christian and Arab manuscripts.
And don't rabbinical sources state categorically that from ancient times
on, only BLACK INK was used in Torah texts? Yet red ink is used on two
fragments from the biblical book of Numbers.
This may, in fact, be the most important issue. Just because cinnabar
powder (for paint or ink?), a very expensive substance, was found in
Herod's palace doesn't mean the poor Essenes would think of using it in
their holiest texts. Does it?
Judaized Christians, however, might not have felt bound by the
traditions and rules governing Torah texts regarding the color of ink or,
for that matter, whether corrections were to be made in the margins (the
Jewish custom) or within the text -- a known Christian practice -- as we
find in so many places in the scrolls.
With that, I'll say goodnight and try to get a few winks before it's time
to rouse the kids and go chase cops, thugs and politicos.