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orion-list Qumran analysis/ Bar-Adon
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In response to SG:
> I suggest you made a peculiar appeal to authority by quoting the
> imperative, "We have to see Qumran as an integral part of the Hasmonean
> plan to settle and fortify the Jordan valley," when Drori and Magen have
> not yet, to my knowledge, published their data. (The newspaper article
> provides no supporting evidence.) . . . There is not enough space in
> one post to remind you of the deed of gift ostracon, or of the analyses
> pottery, coins, architecture, burials...) by many other archaeologists who
> do not agree with your proposal.
I strongly suspect that Amir Drori, the head of the Israel Antiquities
Authority, and Y. Magen, an archaeologist who has dug at Qumran,
are familiar with the analyses to which SG refers in disagreement with
For those who may not have kept current on the matter, the
argument for Qumran's foundation as a Hasmonean state
enterprise was published with supporting data by P. Bar-Adon
in _Eretz Israel_ 15 (1981), "The Hasmonean Fortresses and
the Status of Khirbet Qumran" (Heb, pp. 349-352, Eng. summary
p. 86). Quoting from the English summary:
"On the northern shore of the Dead Sea, a large fortress stands
at the mouth of Wadi en-Nar (Nahal Kidron) and Wadi Mazin,
known to the Bedouin as Qasr el-Yahud. Another fortress is
being excavated on the Rujm el-Bahr peninsula, to the north. Some
700 m northwest of this latter site, near the small Ain Juher
some ruins are also being studied. (Khirbet Qumran and Ain Feshka
lie between these sites.) There is also a network of small
at strategic points, within visual range of one another, attesting
a network of roads through the mountain passes, leading to the
hills of Judea.
"The author holds that all these sites constitute a single
according to a well-planned royal scheme, with uniform architecture,
in line with the strategic and economic requirements of each site.
As there is no clear literary evidence on the origin of these sites,
the archaeological findings must suffice. On the basis of de Vaux's
conclusions concerning stage 1a at Qumran, on the author's
excavations at Ain el-Ghuweir (some 15 km south of Qumran) and
on MazarÝs level 2 at 'En-Gedi, the author ascribes
these fortresses to John Hyrcanus, who needed a strong,
comprehensive defence system commanding vital water sources,
agricultural fields, flocks, Jordan River crossings, the plains of
Jericho and the caravan routes in the Judean desert. He turned
the Qumran-Ain Feshka oasis, like the one at En-Gedi, into crown
property and incorporated his tenants into his strategic plans . . .
"The absence of burials around the fortresses would support
Yadin's theory that the Qumran cemetery, with over 1000 graves,
was the central burial place for the entire region . . ."
(I have omitted the parts of the summary concerning Bar-Adon's
suggestions that Essenes either arrived later, or were partners
with John Hyrcanus, since that does not directly bear on
Bar-Adon's archaeological argument.)
J.B. Humbert (of the Humbert and Chambon publication of
De Vaux's locus notes, and overseeing publication of the full
site report of De Vaux) has argued in print in favor of Qumran
having been built as a Hasmonean state enterprise.
Indeed what matters truly is evidence, not authorities. The
full evidence on Qumran, as all know, is not available. But
in the interim, those with the most firsthand knowledge of
the evidence today--if not all, then most--seem to have almost
moved beyond this question as if it is no longer an issue.
Qumran is smack on top of a former state project of
the c. 8th century which no one has ever thought was built
by ancient sectarians. Qumran is in a regional context and
appears at the time of either John Hyrcanus or (perhaps
better) Alexander Jannaeus, at a time when Josephus
says the Hasmonean state was expanding into that region.
It is not for the Bar-Adon theory to be proven. It is for those
who think anything else to disprove it, and show cause why
it is not the most reasonable assessment of how Qumran
came to be built. Apologies for the length.
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