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orion-list Qumran Graves

Dear subscribers,

Steven Goranson has asked me to present the results of the two publications 
I mentioned in my mail a few days ago, and I am glad to do so at least 
regarding the one directly dealing with Joe Zias' latest publication. My 
article in QC deals with bone material from about half of the graves 
excavated by Roland de Vaux. The first part tells the story how this 
material eventually made its way to Germany to be examined by Dr. Olav 
Röhrer-Ertl at the University of Munich. Olav Röhrer-Ertl, Ferdinand 
Rohrhirsch and collegues have presented the first batch of their results in 
a recent article in RdQ. Then I focus on the paper given by Joe Zias who, 
after his brief own examination of the material in Germany, came to the 
conclusion that the evidence in fact supported the (old) theory according 
to which the scolls belong to the Essenes, that Qumran was an Essene 
settlement, that the cemetery was of a community of strictly celibate 
adults and that the only way of procreation in the group was through 
proselytizing. Since my article in QC has been completed and sent to press 
long before Joe Zias' report was published in DSD, and I am eagerly 
awaiting the issue to be available at the library here, I cannot respond to 
Joe Zias' article (yet). But I assume that the DSD article is mainly based 
on these four conclusions. If there are more data in the article, we have 
to talk about them later. - After a brief report on a Conference in 
Eichstaett/Germany where the results of the years-long anthropological 
research on the material (and much more which is all published in the 
second publication I referred to earlier) was presented to the public, I 
come back in more detail to the issues raised by Joe Zias in Boston. Here I 
propose the following conclusions, all based on the results of the work 
carried out by Röhrer-Ertl and his collegues (i.e. the same material Joe 
Zias took as basis for his conclusions):
a) There is no conclusive evidence that the graves on the fringes are 
bedouin. Neither the orientation or the shape of the burials, nor the fact 
that there were beads found in the graves require us to suggest a much 
later date for these burials than for the rest of them. Because a detailed 
discussion is presented in my article, I would only like to stress two 
things. First, what today is considered the fringes of the cemetery need 
not have been on the fringes in antiquity (erosion), and second all (!) 
bones examined by Röhrer-Ertl show the same degree of having been affected 
a long time ago and over a long time by chemicals in the soil, something 
not sufficiently taken into consideration by Joe Zias in his Boston paper. 
As there was no way to get any results from C 14 due to the lack of 
appropriate carbon material because of the very same chemicals (there were 
attempts to run C14 dates on the bones, of course!), there is no secure way 
to separate any of the bones from the rest. Unless Joe Zias or anybody else 
has new C14 data, we simply have no way of settling the question by 
referring to "objective" scientific C14s. The claim that the bones are "200 
years old" promulgated on the conference rests on a severe methodological 
error: this date does not come from the bones themselves, but from organic 
packing material in which the bones were stored after excavation - a big 
difference indeed.
b) To  make it even more interesting, Röhrer-Ertl has identified two women 
in the main cemetery (Q22, Q24-II), which of course was disputed by Zias in 
Boston, but without convincing arguments. We have to bear in mind, however, 
that more bones are being examined in Paris, so the number proposed by the 
German team might (!) even go up.
To make it brief, I think Joe Zias in his paper (if that refers to the DSD 
article, too, remains to be seen) has come to premature conclusions, some 
of which cannot be substantiated by the data he has presented (the 
character of the scrolls or the community as Essene, thanks to Sigrid 
Peterson), others which are based on questionable conclusions drawn from 
data of his German collegues. I admit that even with these female 
individuals identified in the main cemetery and its "fringes", the number 
of females is lower that at other sites, but not unique. More on this in my 
article and a book I am currently writing.

Let me conclude with a few words on the term "paradigm shift". I am happy 
about Russell Gmyrken remarks. Even if Thomas Kuhn would not like us to use 
that phrase, I still would take it to name the situation as I see it. The 
phrase has long been used in the literature and nobody has any copyright on 
it. We should not quarrel about terms but about the facts behind them. Is 
this the reason for Steven Goranson's veto? We might not be in the position 
to present a new paradigm yet, but from an archaeological standpoint I see 
less and less that substantiates the old one. So there is a shift going on, 
we just have to realize it.

Let's all look forward to a lively discussion.

All the best

Jurgen Zangenberg
630 Whitney Avenue
New Haven CT 06511


Note from the moderator: this message originally bounced because it is
over the size limit but I forwarded it on because it is on-topic.

Unfortunately, the Israeli ISP inter.net.il seems to be having some
problems. Joe Zias uses that ISP and the recent messages have been
bouncing. As soon as it clears up, I'll offer to forward the cemetery
messages to him.


For private reply, e-mail to Jurgen Zangenberg <jurgen.zangenberg@pantheon.yale.edu>
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