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Re: orion The Diverse Cemetery of Qumran

According to Vernon Chadwick:
[. . . ]
> I understand also that the graves in the main Qumran cemetary
> contained virtually no personal belongings (consistent with communal style
> of living?).  My question is whether this (burial with no personal
> belongings) was standard pratice with 2nd Temple Jews in Jerusalem or
> perhaps unique to Qumran.

>From the information developed by Rachel Hahlili, based on her own work as well
as that of other archaeologists, there were two kinds of formal burials at this 
time. (See, for example, her Anchor Bible Dictionary article, s.v. Burials,
where she lists two types of tomb burials.)

The older, more usual, type were "true" family burials, in tombs containing
places for several individuals. Either coffins or ossuaries were used, and in the
case of ossuary burials, according to Hachlili, we know of burials in the same
place of as many as three generations of one family.

These burials did contain personal items, mostly in the graves of women and

The "family" burials in Steven Pfann's description of the cemetery at Qumran do
not conform to other family burials at the time, or slightly later, in other
locations. There is no way of identifying these Qumran burials according to
family membership, that I know of, unless remains from the area of the five
hillocks have not been reburied, but exist somewhere and DNA analysis has been
performed on them, and that DNA analysis shows separated skeletons to be
genetically related. All the information to date has been that there were no

As far as personal items, they consisted of earrings, by which the skeletons were
identified as female, and which were probably being worn at the time of death,
and were not removed, rather than being placed into the grave by someone after
death. (This is according to de Vaux's notes, published in 1997 by Humbert.)

This style of burial, in individual graves, is not unique to Qumran; similar
burials have been found elsewhere, at `ain el-Ghuweir and elsewhere. Hachlili's
paper at the 50th Anniversary Congress last summer listed additional sites for
the pattern elements that were specific to individual burials.

> Vernon Chadwick
> Charlotte, NC
> chadwick3@msn.com

Sigrid Peterson  UPenn  petersig@ccat.sas.upenn.edu