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orion Y. Hirschfeld on Ein Gedi 1998
Thanks to Yizar Hirschfeld for sending his report on Ein Gedi 1998 to the
orion web site. The archaeological site is certainly interesting and worth
further excavation. Here are a few comments and questions.
The report notes "6, 7 coins." Is this 6 or 7 (one being
uncertain), or 67? What are the identifications of the coins? Where were
they found? Was the abandonment of the site determined from pottery and
coins (i.e., "small finds") alone, or by stratigraphy and architecture as
well? ("Small finds" were deemphasized in favor of architecture in Dr.
Hirschfeld's 1998 JNES article on Qumran.) In other words, for instance,
were the buildings reinhabited merely or also built and rebuilt also in the
second phase? (Why rely on Aharoni's 1958 observations as to building
materials, now that you have more data?) Why can't this be a worker camp,
even if unusual? Is it actually unique? Does Uzi Dahari's Kidron South site
provide a parallel? Are there burials? Who lived there in the two phases is
definitely an interesting question.
One suggestion in the report is certainly wrong: this site is not
the Essene one described by Pliny. (That it could be another, later Essene
site remains an open question, as far as I know.) Pliny (whose death date
only is cited in the report) was never in Judaea, despite a tenacious
misunderstanding in some Dead Sea Scroll related literature. Bibliography
which demonstrates this has been posted on orion and previously sent to
Yizhar. Pliny has used a written source from the time of Herod the Great.
Even if one wrongly thought Pliny was in Judaea in the 70s CE, Ein Gedi
would not have been a peaceful place to this imagined eyewitness, as a
result of the war. Furthermore, the settlement Pliny described (relying on
his written source) had been in existence for a long time. Such is not
possible at the Ein Gedi "village" site if evidence (from pottery or
coins?) *begins* in late first century. (And is even that late first
century beginning date agreed on by other archaeologists, or do some give
later readings?) Further, Pliny's site (now called Qumran) was larger.
This site near Ein Gedi is surely not the Essene site in Pliny's
text. It is, however, an interesting site, worth further exploration.
Thank you for your work and your report.