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orion-list Radiocarbon

In the end, the hurtful and potentially damaging charge from Stephen 
Goranson that I had misrepresented radiocarbon science amounted 
to a simple disagreement in interpretation, nothing more than that.  
I hope that this is sufficiently clear to orioners that it needs no further 
comment.  I have sought hard to accurately convey the science, 
cite the sources, disclose relevant information, and then make 
my arguments.  For anyone at Arizona listening, I have not 
improperly claimed any endorsements for my interpretation or 
analysis of the data, contrary to what may have been said 
irresponsibly on this list.  And to the list, I watched with amazement 
at the posts of the past week (I had nothing to do with the posts 
written in my defense).  I can fully understand why someone 
like Tim Jull, a serious scientist and now editor of _Radiocarbon_, 
would feel no desire to post on this list again.  That opportunity 
appears to be lost.  

For those with access to the Flint & Vanderkam article (1998) with 
the table of radiocarbon dates, note how a line can be drawn at 
about c. 50 BCE that touches all one- and two-sigma date ranges 
except 4QTQahat at the early end and 4QpPsA at the late end.  
With a c. 20 regional uncertainty, all but one of the existing 
radiocarbon dates is compatible with an hypothesis of no text 
activity later than an endpoint somewhere between about 70 and 
30 BCE.  This is not in any way positive evidence for such an 
hypothesis.  It is simply that, with the exception of 4QpPsA, the 
distribution is not inconsistent with such an hypothesis--of a late-
end for the texts sometime between 70 and 30 BCE, with most 
text production at the late end, sometime in the mid-1st century BCE.
The linchpin of the prevailing conception that there exist 1st CE
Qumran texts is not really the 4QpPsA radiocarbon date, which 
only came into existence in 1995.  The linchpin is the palaeographic
dating schematic system of Cross, developed in the 1950's in a 
climate when the 68 CE deposit date of de Vaux was simply 
assumed as the most basic of facts.  I solicit any comments 
concerning my article, "Palaeography and the dating of individual 
Qumran texts" posted on the Orion web page.  (Just click on the 
home page address at the bottom of this post to get to it.)  That 
6-page article is from an appendix of my big pNah book which 
should be out next year.  I felt the issue was sufficiently important
and timely, no pun intended, to post it now on orion.

Gregory L. Doudna
Reseach Associate
U. of Copenhagen Dead Sea Scrolls Initiative
Kobmagergade 44-46                                       tel: (45) 35 32 36
1150 Kobenhavn K                                          fax: (45) 35 32 36
DENMARK                                                       email:

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