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orion Ein Gedi January 1999 season?
I wonder if there is news about the most recent season of excavations at
Ein Gedi? Though, as detailed in a paper at the orion web site, I do not
think the recently-excavated location with "cells" is the Essene settlement
mentioned in Pliny's Natural History, it is, nonetheless, an interesting
The brief report of earlier work there which appeared in AJA 102
(1998) 793-6 (in the archaeology in Israel survey, Samuel Wolff ed.) raises
some questions. For instance: why no mention of other possibly similar
sites, including the South Kidron site excavated by Uzi Dahari and the
other site in the Ein Gedi area indicated by Y. Aharoni in the Bulletin of
the Israel Exploration Society 1958 (site 8 on the page 28 map)?
A few additional notes: Pre-1947, F. Conybeare also translated
Pliny's Latin in a way which indicates that only Ein Gedi (not also
Jerusalem or Jericho) was still destroyed (from c. 40 BCE) at the time of
the description (by M. Agrippa, 15 BCE): starting with the ambiguous word
"below": "...Below them lay Engadi, a town once second only to Jerus. in
its fertility and groves of palms. Now 'tis but one more tomb. Next comes
Masada..." (Dic. of the Bible, J. Hastings ed., Edinburgh 1898).
According to P. Richardson's book on Herod, M. Agrippa had been in
charge of Rome's water supply, and on his visit in Judaea was shown
waterworks, as well as the temple under construction. This being a few
years after, according to Josephus, Herod excused Essenes from an oath.
Pre-1947 locations of Essenes did vary. W.D. Morrison, The Jews
under Roman Rule (London, 1896), even while writing of Essenes in "the
desert solitudes of Engadi" gave a PEF engraving of Ein Feskha.
For recent data on debated previous water-levels, etc., see The
Dead Sea: The Lake and its Setting, ed. Tina Niemi et al. (Oxford U.P.,
Pliny's account has a semipersonified Jordan River meandering and
giving benefit with its good water, reluctant to empty into the bad water
of the lake. Does anyone know the ancient(?) source of the false claim that
birds flying over the lake die? (If I recall, this appeared in the turn of
the centry Jewish Encyclopedia.)
best wishes, Stephen
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