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orion Hirschfeld JNES and Lisan peninsula
Yizhar Hirschfeld has contributed a substantial article that I assume will
be of interest to some on list. "Early Roman Manor Houses in Judea and the
Site of Khirbet Qumran," JNES 57 (1998) 161-189.
It provides much comparative information and architectural plans,
which will be useful, even though, in my opinion, his main thesis is not
Hirschfeld quite reasonably emphasizes the agricultural nature of
the site--it was not, e.g., a fort. Naturally, some architectual elements,
such as the tower, were not unique to Qumran. He writes that there is
little or no reason to assume a major gap in habitation after the 31 BCE
earthquake. The article does not establish a luxurious level of material
culture (e.g., no frescoes or mosaics). Nor does it show a distinct
difference in quality level between a proposed pars urbana and a pars
rustica. If the Greek term for manor house is "baris," why is a featured
proposed example from Josephus (War 2.70) described as a "ktema," estate?
His compared sites do not have so many miqvaot nor a comparable cemetery.
Essenes as unlocated fringe workers is not persuasive; Qumran still looks
communal. And the Ein Gedi site, as previously discussed, does not fit
There's much else in the article. To mention just one more item: a
footnote that caught my eye. Page 185 note 48 discusses the cemetery at
Qumran, then mentions some similar burials at Zafafa, south of Jerusalem.
Then, Hirschfeld wrote: "Another large cemetery with graves of the same
type as those of Qumran and Jerusalem were observed by me (together with
Yoram Tsafrir and Uzi Dahari) at the site called el-Mazra'a in the 'tongue'
of the Dead Sea. These graves have been recently robbed by the local
population, and, as far as I know, are not recorded anywhere."
It may be worth noting that Epiphanius, Panarion, Heresy 19, on the
Ossenes (19.1.2, F. Williams trans.) wrote of Ossenes: "I have been told
that they originally came from Nabataea, Ituraea, Moabitis and Arielis, and
the lands beyond the basin of what sacred scripture called the "Salt Sea":
this is the one known as the 'Dead Sea.'"