[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
[The following text is in the "iso-8859-1" character set]
[Your display is set for the "ISO-8859-8" character set]
[Some characters may be displayed incorrectly]
Returning to the topic of radiocarbon dating and the Scrolls,
there is no way the existing data on the texts, if accurate,
can be harmonized with a 63 BCE terminus for the scrolls.
Although I suggested this in a previous post, if it was not
direct enough I wish to make the point explicit here. The
calibration curve between 55 BCE and 85 BCE is essentially
flat, at about 2075 +/- 20 throughout these three decades.
This means any texts from c. 85-63 BCE should all yield
the same measurement, c. 2075 +/- 20, within margins of
error. (Older than 85 BCE the calibration curve rises.) Any
texts which measure significantly less than c. 2075 +/- 20
are therefore indicating younger than 63 BCE.
Five texts did measure significantly below 2075 +/- 20.
1QH 1979 +/- 32
4Q266 D(a) 1954 +/- 38
4Q258 S(d) 1823 +/- 24 (#1)/ 1964 +/- 45 (#2)
4Q171 pPs(a) 1944 +/- 23
4Q521 MessAp 1984 +/- 33
It can be seen that these numbers are not consistent with the
calibration curve level at 85-55 BCE. These cannot be explained
as random scatter. On the hypothesis that many or even most
of the 19 Qumran texts had true dates in the years 85-55 BCE
(and none younger) one would expect somewhere between
only 0 and 1 texts to give numbers like the above--but not five.
Five of this kind of number is about 4-5 too many.
(The reason I spoke in earlier discussions on orion in terms
of possible compatibility between 63 and these dates was
because of an error in interpretation of the regional offset issue.
I was using calendar years instead of radiocarbon measurement
years for the c. +/- 20 location-offset possibility. This is a
technical point and if anyone is truly curious as to the details
of my error contact me offlist. It can be seen from the numbers
above that even a 20 offset will not bring the five dates above
into possible agreement with c. 2075 +/- 20.)
The conclusion is: there is no reconciling the above data with 63
BCE on the assumption that these are accurate measurements.
But now I wish to address a question to Tim Jull, if he is listening.
In fact, although many in the Qumran field perceive differently,
there is no basis to know of post-63 BCE text activity among the
Qumran texts other than these radiocarbon dates. There is a
story that seems plausible to many surrounding 68 CE, but that
is as strong as the positive case is for post-63 BCE. It therefore
becomes critically important to evaluate the meaning of this
radiocarbon data rightly.
You have rightly noted that it is improper to reject data points
without cause. Yet if I may turn the question around, is it safe
to believe all unexcluded data points in terms of deep and
far-reaching historical conclusions? Here is the problem.
Among the 19 Qumran texts given AMS datings, 2 of these
(4QTQahat at Zurich; 4QSd at Tucson) appear to have had
problems in their datings. In neither case was the contam-
ination, if that is what it was, that caused these results
detectable or visible to either lab under microscope. If this
is the case with 2 datings, what is the proper evaluation of
the remaining 17 in terms of drawing historical conclusions?
How does one determine the latest date of floruit of an
archaeological assemblage or floruit or cluster from a battery
of AMS datings? (In this case, the latest known Qumran
text production.) What are the right methods to use and
what kind of "latest-date" estimate based on the existing
Qumran AMS data is produced by correct methods?
Gregory L. Doudna
U. of Copenhagen Dead Sea Scrolls Initiative
KÝbmagergade 44-46 tel: (45) 35 32 36
1150 KÝbenhavn K fax: (45) 35 32 36
For private reply, e-mail to Greg Doudna <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To unsubscribe from Orion, e-mail to email@example.com with
the message: "unsubscribe Orion." For more information on the Orion Center
or for Orion archives, visit our web site http://orion.mscc.huji.ac.il.