[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: orion-list Who Cares and Why does it Matter?

Dear Colleagues;
Regarding Dr. Baumgartens long posting entitled "who cares and why does
it matter" in which he critiques my recent article and that of others
who equate Qumran with the Essenes,  I would like to reply with the

1. As for his complaint that I resexed the females as males. One must
remember that it was originally my colleague in Germany Dr. Olav
Rohrer-Ertl who resexed the four skeletons not me. The material was
originally regarded in the field as male by Professor Kurth,  a well
respected French Physical Anthropologist in the 1950's.  Upon seeing the
material and taking the necessary measurements I saw that Kurth was
correct. Resexing material is done all the time and is legitimate
however it must be based on firm scientific grounds. I suspect that my
German colleague was not familiar with comparative anthro. data here and
therefore erred in his assessment. When my German colleague sexed the
material coming from the eastern part of the cemetery and said that it
was female I concurred with his assessment, but disagreed with his
dating of the material.

2. As for the dating of the woman and sub adults (excepting T-9) prior
to the German's C-14 dating of three contentious tombs I was in a
meeting in which I announced to colleagues here in Jerusalem that the
material was definitely Bedouin (Mamluke/Turkish) for a variety of
reasons. Suddenly someone in the hall, rose his hand and said that a
unpublished manuscript was circulating ( which  which I hadn't seen)
in which were carbon 14 dates which substantiated my dating. Last week
my colleague J. Zangenberg e-mailed me an article from a Polish Journal
in which he claims that the c-14dating is irrelevant as it was based on
material which was used for packing! One can therefore ask,  did De
Vaux's team select for packing and transport, material which gave C-14
dates from the Turkish period. Where did they get material which was
several hundreds of years old in the 1950's and use it for packing?  Is
the C-14 date on the 'packing material' which coincides with my dating
based on archaeological/anthropological just a coincidence for all three
tombs. Secondly, he claims that they mistook organic material
(bark/cork) for bone, the former which was used for packing in the
carbon 14 tests. Hard to believe that experienced scientists could not
tell the difference between tree bark/cork and bone.

3. Dr. Baumgarten claims that  I had a dilemma in which I had a prior
commitment to a conclusion'  is hard to believe. As he and others know,
I had never expressed any interest in the cemetery nor had any of my
research over a period of 25 years ever addressed the issue. My research
on Qumran dealt with such mundane matters as head lice from the combs
and DNA typing  the scroll fragments, the latter which was probably my
most important contribution. I  cannot even read the scrolls and
religiously am regarded by colleagues as  RC (religiously challenged) on
all fronts,  therefore when I was first asked to take a look at the
report coming out of Germany I took a look out of pure scientific
curiosity. My only commitment was to shed light on what was, and is,
basically a very fundamental and simple problem in burial archaeology.
The only problem which I was forced to address was to spend about  6
months reading what others before me had to say and believe me that was
a lot. :-) Some good, some bad, some irrelelant, and some absurd.
Therefore, I first went to the hard data, the skeletal evidence and they
had to wade through the literature not, visa versa as you suggest. My
prior commitment/agenda was science, nothing less, nothing more.

4. As for the woman from T-9, no problem for me, does being on the
margins imply marginality? That's for Qumran scholars, not my problem.
What I found highly amusing was your concern over the mark   -    after
the one woman from the cemetery cited on page 245. This was a typo,
pure and simple that somehow crept into the chart. Nothing metaphysical
nor was it meant to diminish the fact that there was one woman there.

5. Regarding the question of whether or not women/children were there,
again it's simple and fundamental if one realizes that any burial from
the cemetery should produce one of the three following possibilities,
male, female, sub adult. (unless it's a Christian monastery) Twenty
eight tombs were opened and all 28 contained male burials, if you think
that is sampling error, non-random sample ect,  then figure the
probabilities of flipping that three sided coin and having in come up
male 28 times.

6. While I will not convince all and there will always remain a few nay
sayers out there, I would like to find a Second Temple cemetery in the
region, preferable on the western side of the Dead Sea between Jericho
and Ein Gedi with the same demographic picture. Meanwhile, there's
nothing in the cemetery  to lead anyone 'down the road to Damascus',
that it's not an Essene settlement.


Joe Zias
Science and Archaeology Group @ The Hebrew University

For private reply, e-mail to Joe Zias <zias@inter.net.il>
To unsubscribe from Orion, e-mail to majordomo@mscc.huji.ac.il with the
message: "unsubscribe Orion." Archives are on the Orion Web
site, http://orion.mscc.huji.ac.il.