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SV: SV: orion-list Re:...lamps *Correction*
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I fail to understand what Goranson is on about (and frankly do not
have time for much of this). On the matter of the find spot of
the ostracon by Prof. Strange, I cannot comprehend what the objection
is to my description of finding it, as a secondary item, at the cemetery
at Qumran, since that is where it was reported found. So far as I can
remember, Prof. Strange's description was in agreement with this
report in the original publication of Cross and Eshel in IEJ:
"While volunteers were cleaning the eastern perimeter wall
separating the buildings and court of the community centre
from the cemetery, two inscribed sherds were found at the
base of the eastern face of the wall. Joseph Caulfield, the
volunteer who found them while brushing near the surface
of the ground, was using a trowel and heard 'a clink' . . ."
I have seen the spot myself, pointed out by Hanan Eshel to a small
group of us in July 1997. It is on the cemetery side of that wall,
and is at the edge of the cemetery. (It is some distance from the
buildings at Qumran.) My reference to "in the dirt of the cemetery"
as an accurate equivalent string of English words giving the same
meaning as reported above and by Prof. Strange seems perfectly
reasonable to me, and I stand by it. If Goranson wishes to fume
over this, so be it. Absolutely no slight at all was intended by me
on the report of the finding. I completely accept the accuracy of Prof.
Strange's description. In the absence of any substantial new
information on the matter, I see no reason for further comment on
S. Goranson continued:
> What, on the other hand, might reasonably be said to come from the
> cemetery is the "Herodian" lamp previously mentioned--a lamp whose
> existence you questioned--though it is a pretty obvious type, and
I simply do not have time for this. I have never questioned the existence
of that lamp found at the cemetery.
> hermeneutics of suspicion do have limits for historical
> reconstruction--then questioned whether it was relevant--a lamp reportedly
Yes I question whether it is relevant to the dating of the burials until
it is shown that it is. What's wrong with that?
> found in the fill of tomb 26. Qumran tombs, being remarkably poor in grave
> goods, as far as I know, were not much robbed. So, if a "Herodian" lamp
> were found between the body and the stones marking the burial, one might
> conclude that this burial happened sometime later than approximately 20
> at the earliest.
The whole issue is where the Herodian lamp was found, EXACTLY. Since
De Vaux never said, and could not say, because he did not find it in
a grave in situ but found it in the dirt fill that had been removed in
down to the grave (see Humbert and Chambon 1994 on this detail),
it is not known where the lamp was. I certainly don't have the experience
of field archaeologists and would be swayed by opinion from veteran
field archaeologists on this point, but my understanding is that items
found in dirt in a cemetery, unless they are in the grave itself, are
short of secure evidence for what they are dating. They could be, e.g.
dating someone walking around in the cemetery who dropped a lamp.
Note that there is no _other_ claim of evidence indicating burials
in the cemetery are dated to the Herodian period. That is why it is
triply important to be sure of what information this lamp is actually
Goranson is of course perfectly free to believe what he likes concerning
archaeological finds. I hope that Goranson will not be
too offended if I am free to differ in opinion on this point. Note I don't
deny a Herodian era dating of use of the graves. I just would like to
see secure evidence of it before believing. We are talking science,
not religious creeds here, aren't we? And why the tone of offense, as if
discussion of issues and evidence is somehow out of order? Never
mind. I need to get back to work
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