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orion-list Qumran skeletons/gender

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(JZ:) But according to your 1985 article both you and your coauthor 
looked at Haas's material in 1970 before there was any publication 
or reaction to the publication.  After the publication appeared 
nothing could be looked at because it had been reburied.  (I take 
it now you mean you worked from photographs and published 
data for the 1985 publication, limiting yourself to the crucified man.
But the 1985 publication says your reanalysis was based in part 
on physical investigation in 1970, before there had been any 
published reactions to Haas's interpretations.  I was just asking 
if you had any information on the other skeletons--notes, memory--
that would shed any light on the issue.  I can understand that 
may not have been your question then, and perhaps you didn't 
see the other skeletons at all.  I interpret your answer to mean 
you know of nothing specific that challenges Haas's female 
identifications or heights in the Giv'at ha-Mivtar allotment.)  

Your 1985 reinterpretation of the crucified man seems well-done.
I suppose the question is does the typo or mistake, whichever it
was, on the length of the nail, plus the misidentified photographs, 
the correction of the teeth interpretation by the Johns Hopkins 
Medical School, the correction of the ankle bone fragment 
identification, etc. add up to a conclusion that all of Haas's 
measurements of skeleton heights, and application of what I 
presume to be standard sexing procedures, are to be discounted?
In the case of Haas's 4 women identifications in the Qumran 
"main" cemetery, those had another physical anthropologist's 
name on it, Nathan.  Surely Nathan, whoever he is, would not 
have signed on to data unless he had checked it and also 
believed it to be accurate and correct?

I hope I haven't come across as completely negative.  What 
you argue is very interesting indeed, and I hope you will have 
opportunity to examine and report your results on all the 
remaining skeletons that are now known or may come to light.
My skepticism, if thats what it is, to the thesis attributed to you
arises from this, which perhaps may be useful to you in seeing 
how a non-physical anthropologist interested in your issues reacts:
I see a history of four physical anthropologists from the early days
(Vallois, Kurth, Haas, Nathan), all of whom examined skeletons
from the "main" Qumran cemetery.  Three of these four reported 
multiple women.  The only one who didn't was Kurth, but his
successors, using supposedly updated professional methods, 
say Kurth was mistaken and that there were women.  That makes
three sets of skeletons from the main cemetery for which physical 
anthropologists in every case have independently reported women.
According to Joan Taylor's article, if there are mistakes and bias
in the sexing of the skeletons, one would expect mistakes to be in
the direction of underreporting the incidence of females, not in 
overreporting of females, in terms of historical experience.

Second, no other cemetery known of this type--there are now at 
least a half dozen of this type, maybe more, known, right?--none 
of the others are other than male-female mixed.  Why should the
one at Qumran be different?  Third, there is no notion in the texts 
found at Qumran of male celibacy, if that is a consideration.  And 
fourth, the Essene identification with the texts, if one accepts it, 
doesn't give much help because even Josephus admits not all 
Essenes were men.  So this literary testimony becomes 
exceedingly slippery to use in interpreting archaeological 
remains such as a cemetery.  In addition it is not clear which 
period the cemetery was in use.  As you know Drori, Magen, and 
Humbert say Period Ib was not Essene.  On the other hand I have 
an article in press making an archaeological argument that 
Period II is discontinous with Ib and Period II is not associated 
with any text deposits.  So there is an association issue 
between the cemetery and the people of the texts which is 
presently unresolved.  (And the Essene label on the cemetery 
is the only extra-physical reason anyone would suppose the 
cemetery should be all-male.)

Would you answer one last, important question (and then 
I'll bow out and wait for your article, and wish you well)?  
Its actually in two parts.

(a) Could you say how many of the skeletons in Germany that
you examined that you personally and individually endorse 
(sign your name to, etc.) as certainly male, as distinguished 
from uncertain?  Could you give a number? 

(b) Is your claim that there is no secure identification of women
from c. 2000 years ago in the Qumran cemetery?  Or is it that 
the cemetery of that era was all men?  These are not the same
claims, and it is very much to the point which conclusion is 
your claim.  Thanks,

Greg Doudna

For private reply, e-mail to Greg Doudna <gd@teol.ku.dk>
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