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orion Celibacy, Cemetery, update




According to S. Pfann, quoting S. Peterson:

> 
> CELIBACY?
> ^”The better information about women at Qumran will come from materials
> such as spindles and/or spindle whorls at the main Qumran site, as well as
> reanalysis of the sectarian texts. The celibacy model seems to be based
> on Josephus
> etc^‘ - Sigrid Peterson
> 

S. Pfann replying:

> 
> By the way there were no spindle whorls or loom weights found during the
> excavations of Kh. Qumran.

There were no spindle *whorls* listed in Humbert-Chambon, but there *were*
<Fr>fuseaux</>, or "spindles", perhaps only the shafts, listed in the
first 50 or so loci. I have regained most of my notes about the cemetery,
but don't have the listing of spindles, beads, and earrings made from the
notes on loci in Humbert-Chambon. The spindle whorls found elsewhere were
made of wood; the fire at Qumran may have destroyed some. You see, I,
too, can argue from silence. :-) 

Loom weights are not necessarily evidence of the presence of women, as we
don't know that weaving was exclusively done by women. 

--------------------
Separately, regarding the cemetery:

  Thanks for the references to de Vaux's preliminary reports in Revue
Biblique, issues of 1953, 1954, and 1956. I would note that in his report
of 1953, when the first nine graves had been excavated, de Vaux wrote the
following:

  Nous avons paraffine/ et retire/ les cra^nes et les bassins qui
  n'e/taient pas trop endommage/s, pour qu'on puisse de/terminer l'a^ge,
  le sexe et peut-e^tre la race des squelettes [skeletons]. Le Professeur
  H.-V. Vallois, Directeur du Muse/e de l'Homme, a\ Paris, a bien voulu se
  charger de cet examen. Il conclut que, sur les neuf sujets dont nous lui
  avons envoye/ certaines pie\ces osseuses, il y a plusieurs femmes, que 2
  sujets ont de 20 a\ 25 ans. . . (RB, 1953, 103).

I understand "plusieurs femmes" as "several females", "several" being more
than two and less than half of the nine subjects ("sujets"), which would
mean three or four. In the confused representations of these nine graves
in subsequent literature, sometimes Tombe 7 (T7) is described as female,
and slightly outside the "main" cemetery; T9 and T10 were from an area to
the north of the largest area of graves and consisted (de Vaux, RB, 1956)
of one man and one woman, as determined rapidly by G. Kurth, as well. We
don't know which was which. 

All the rest of these nine graves were IN the large flat cemetery area
closer to Khirbet Qumran than the other cemetery areas. That is, according
to Vallois's determination, at least one other, possibly two other,
females were buried in this area. However, this has been widely
represented as an area for men only, proving that the "communaute/" -- the
word that de Vaux uses repeatedly in his summary of 1954 -- was a celibate
one, like a monastery.

De Vaux rightly notes, in his 1953 article, that more than 100 graves
would have to be excavated to provide a sample from which one could
generalize about the community. One such generalization is the
representation of the settlement at Khirbet Qumran as a) using the closest
cemetery area, and b) consisting only of men.

The genders of the skeletons from graves 3-11 are indeterminate, although
they actually were determined (as much as possible?) by an independent and
reputable authority at the time. Several other graves have no information
about gender; an accurate table exists in the German edition of the
Excavation notes, as James Strange was kind enough to let me know. I've
checked the table against de Vaux's 1956 report, which adds more of G.
Kurth's determinations than exist in Humbert & Chambon's edition of his
notes (1997).

Assuming that every excavated grave that is not identified as definitely
male, or the grave of a child, is the resting place of a female, yields 
14 out of 37 females sets of remains, of 35 recorded graves of the 37
actually excavated by de Vaux. The percentage is a quite respectable
37.84% female, in line with Steckoll's findings, and the excavation of En
El Ghuweir. This percentage involves the areas adjacent to Qumran, and not
the four additional graves across the wadi Qumran to the south of the
ruins.

The smallest number of women in the same set of graves would be 4,
determined by G. Kurth, from the Jericho excavations and Go%ttingen, all 
in one of the more distant projections of the graveyard. In the German
edition chart, there are 20 usable identifications of skeletons as male,
in the same group of data. This gives 16.67% as the percentage of females
buried in the cemetery. 

I would suggest reporting this range, 16.67% -- 37.84%, from the least
possible percentage of females to the greatest possible percentage. It is
an excursion beyond the limits of the data to generalize about the
population of Khirbet Qumran, based on what we now know about the remains
in the cemetery/ies.

 > 
> Stephen Pfann
> 

Sigrid Peterson  University of Pennsylvania  petersig@ccat.sas.upenn.edu