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orion-list Essenes at Qumran: A Reality Check-For Whom??

Dear Colleagues,

After reading some of the postings today on whether or not Qumran is
Essene, I have to ask myself to whom is the 'reality check' addressed?
>From time to time I read these postings in near total disbelief. For
example: Dr. Altmans assertion today based on an "elementary book on
human physiology' that
one would need to drink at least 32 liters of water per day to survive
in the desert sounds more like mythology than physiology. Not only is
this physiologically impossible but individuals drinking a fraction of
that amount risk death from what is called in layman's terms 'water
intoxication' (polydipsia).  This is a well known medical condition
with psychiatric patients, particularly those diagnosed as psychotic.
The reason for this psy. disorder is that the hormone that controls
water balance in the human body is abnormally regulated. Therefore, if
the people of Qumran were drinking a fraction of that amount, they would
all be dead in a short time due to cerebral edema. Even under most
conditions one can barely consume more that 12 liters per day and that
is under extreme conditions where the individual is exercising
For example, water intoxication occurs from time to time in marathon
runners, due to the mistaken belief that there's no such thing as too
much water.There is.

As for the mikvot not being mikvot. This nonsense reminds me of European
colleagues who told me that the mikvot of Qumran are not mikvot due to
the fact that there are no outlet pipes in the mikvot. Whereas there are
more that 300 mikvot in Israel, none with outlet pipes, then perhaps one
must reason that none of them are mikvot. It was clear that these
colleagues had not ever been to Israel or were comparing European mikvot
to the ones here and drawing false conclusions, as many European mikvot
being built into the water table were in need (halichically and
technically) for the outlet pipe.

As far as the assertion by Dr. Altman that agriculture needs water at a
rate of  70 times of that of an individual, I find this on par with the
above belief that humans need 32 liters per day. If one multiples this
figure by 70,  then one comes up with figure of 2,240 liters of  water
per day,  for say a palm tree,  which survive quite well along the Dead
Sea with water of poor quality, not to mention very little water.  I
think that from time to time some of these postings need, not a reality
check, but a fact check to prevent abuses such as these offered in the
name of science so as to promote one's theory, however right or wrong.  

Joe Zias
Science and Archaeology Group at the Hebrew University.

For private reply, e-mail to Joe Zias <zias@inter.net.il>
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