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Re: orion-list Essenes at Qumran: A Reality Check

    With out entering into the merits of the current debate, I would simply 
point out significantly lower estimates of Qumran's population in J. Patrich, 
"Did Extra-Mural Dwelling Quarters Exist at Qumran?" in The Dead Sea Scrolls 
Fifty Years after their Discovery:  1947-1997, 720-727.  He notes Humbert 
estimated 10-15 residents at Qumran and Patrich himself, based on estimates 
of available living quarters, puts an upper limit of a few dozen.  The 
estimates of 150-200 or higher by others would require the majority to live 
outside Qumran itself in caves, tents and huts.  He very persuasively argues 
that there are no remains of tent dwellings (which archaeologists can easily 
identify) and the limestone caves do not resemble other caves adapted to 
human living as e.g. in hermitages in the Judean wilderness.  The marl caves 
were probably inhabited, which adds 3-6 to the population.  So there were 
perhaps 10-40 people at Qumran.  Whether they were Essenes I leave to others 
to argue.

    Russell Gmirkin
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