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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,
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