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RE: orion-list Essenes at Qumran: A Reality Check
This has been quite a reality check. I did some very cursory readings on
the matter and came up with similar (although lower, e.g. 1.4 litres/hour)
The high water requirement is an important datum to consider.
Still it has to be put in perspective.
(1) Drinking water generally constitutes less than half of moisture intake.
So we are not to imagine people drinking 32 litres of water a day. The
highest figure I found for required water under exertion in extreme
conditions was 5 gallons (20 litres)/person.
(2) These strictures are the same for whoever we posit inhabited Qumran;
and also for those who built Masada, and the Roman soldiers who besieged
Masada, etc. It is possible to do hard work in that region despite the
difficulties of water supply.
(3) I cannot imagine that Essenes would have worked that much harder than
any other persons we might want to posit at Qumran, or needed to drink
significantly more water. Whoever was there had to produce food, work the
(4) Thus this matter does not help decide who lived there, but possibly may
help with the question of how many persons--Essene or otherwise--could be
supported by the water installations there. It _might_ be relevant to the
debate about how many of the installations were used as miqvaot rather than
water reservoirs, and this might indirectly factor into the debate about
identity, but IMHO it is not possible to make all of the putative miqvaoth
go away--these have physical characteristics distinctive to miqvaot.
In any case, thanks for raising my eyebrows with a splash of reality
Dr. Daniel K. Falk
Assistant Professor of Ancient Judaism and Biblical Studies
Department of Religious Studies
University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-1294
Office phone: (541) 346-4980
Office fax: (541) 346-4118
For private reply, e-mail to "Daniel K. Falk" <dfalk@OREGON.UOREGON.EDU>
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