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Re: orion-list Qumran cemeteries, an important new article
In the advance copy of his article that I have from Joe Zias, he does
present new data and observations. These are sufficient to establish his
case for modern Bedouin burials, in one of the cemeteries of Qumran.
He does not present new data or observations or arguments to support a
"finding that the central Qumran cemetery is Essene." He *presupposes*
that Qumran is an Essene settlement, and then supposes that an analysis of
skeletons apparently from the north and south cemeteries, which he deems
to be male in gender, applies also to the main cemetery. That is,
wherever graves were excavated and the gender not determined, he reasons
that the skeletons are those of males--except for the Bedouin cemetery.
He reasons that they are males because Qumran is an Essene settlement and
therefore monastic and celibate; he is not reasoning that Qumran is an
Essene settlement because all the ancient graves are those of males,
because he doesn't know that all the ancient graves are those of males,
only that two, one in the north cemetery, and one in the south cemetery,
which is across the Wadi, are male. And some of the fragmentary remains of
other skeletons don't seem very likely to be female.
In other words, the news is the fairly recent burials of Bedouin women in
one area. The implications for the Essene hypothesis are not there, until
and unless DNA testing is done, and the matter argued from the findings.
Sigrid Peterson email@example.com University of Pennsylvania
According to Stephen Goranson:
> Joseph E. Zias, "The Cemeteries of Qumran and Celebacy: Confusion Laid to
> Rest?" in Dead Sea Discoveries v.7 n.2 (2000)220-55.
> Physical anthropologist Zias has presented new data, observations, and
> arguments which support his finding that the central Qumran cemetery is
> He argues, among othr things, that some of the female burials outside of
> the cemetery center are modern period Bedouin burials. I find that
> convincing. (And cf. Kh. Abu Tabaq.) For instance, they are aligned
> East-West, not North-South, shallower, with better preserved bones, with
> different teeth wear, and include ankle beads of well-preserved amber
> typical of Bedouin use, all differing from the central burials.
> His critique of the proposal that the cemetery resulted from a battle is
> There are further textual issues to be discussed concerning women in
> various Qumran mss and what Josephus called those Essenes who married (here
> I would differ with the article somewhat). There are still questions about
> the--reportedly later--North-South burials in the Lisan, later reported
> Mandaean practice, and so on.
> In any case, I think Joe Zias has made a very significant contribution
> with this article.
> Stephen Goranson
> Durham NC
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