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orion-list Qumran skeletons/gender
The current issue of _Revue de Qumran_ (June 1999) has a report
from some German scientists on study of de Vaux's 1956 Qumran
cemetery skeletons (which were recently found after all these years).
The article is Rohrer-Ertl et al, "Uber die Graberfelder von Khirbet Qumran,
Insbesondere die Funde der Campagne 1956", pp. 3-46. The authors
concluded after study of six of the skeletons that the cemetery
cemetery consisted of (quoting from the English abstract) "individuals
of all ages at death and both sexes"; also that they were "part of a
pre-industrial ruling class, that is they didn't earn their living by
physical work"; and finally that they ate little or no bread.
De Vaux had reported women in the cemetery although they were
categorized as exceptional and statistically minor. In the forthcoming
_Dead Sea Discoveries_ (Dec 1999) Joan Taylor has an article
citing new data saying not only that the number of women in the
cemetery was greater than de Vaux's picture (this may be a reference
to the work of Rohrer-Ertl above)--but also that de Vaux minimized
the incidence of women already suggested from the old data, the
data he had, through the influence of the Essene sect interpretation.
However apparently Joe Zias gave a presentation at SBL in Boston
suggesting the opposite--according to my hearsay, Zias apparently
argued that there was no evidence of women in the cemetery, also
citing new data!
At least we can be glad that the skeletons are finally coming out
of the closet (close to literally). But what is going on with this
conflicting data? Seeking clarification . . .
Gregory L. Doudna
U. of Copenhagen Dead Sea Scrolls Initiative
Kobmagergade 44-46 tel: (45) 35 32 36
1150 Kobenhavn K fax: (45) 35 32 36
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