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orion-list Much Ado About ... Something

Three points of interest which may or may not "matter":

1. According to the most recent estimates, the main spring at Ein Feshkha
(south of Qumran) produces between 15 and 18 million cubic meters of
mineral water per year (i.e. in excess of 41 thousand cubic meters per
day).  Also, recent tests as to the mineral and radioactive content of the
water from the main spring have determined that that water is perfectly
potable (tested by the lab of the Dimona Nuclear Reactor  facility). It
seems likely that there was plenty of drinkable water to go around (even
with the highest estimates of water consumption proposed on the Orion
For further details one may contact the Hydrological Service of Israel,
[Thanks to Erez Baruchi, the site manager of the Ein Feshkha National Park
and Nature Reserve for many of these details.]

2. In my opinion, one should not use the so called "toilet" at Qumran as a
compelling argument to settle any issue concerning an Essene presence
As our UHL/CSEC staff have been carefully checking the original typed
notes of De Vaux for the forthcoming English translation of The
Excavations of Qumran and Ein Feshkha,  with respect to the now notorious
installation in locus 51, two important issues remain unclear.
a) Although the identification has been suggested as such by others,
DeVaux never called the installation a toilet or a latrine. It remains
uncertain whether the installation is actually a "cess pit" (DeVaux) or a
receptacle associated with another industry at the site (the sentiments of
the current team working on the finds).
b) The stratification of Locus 51 was disturbed by the same phenomenon (an
earthquake according to DeVaux)  that destroyed the large stepped pool to
the south (loc 48) leaving the time of the installation's use in doubt.
However, the fact that the installation was discovered to be buried well
"below a pavement of large stones" (probably from period 1b) introduces
the possibility that it may in fact derive from DeVaux's period 1a or even
earlier (i.e., preceding the sect's occupation of the site).
In other words, the status of the so called "toilet" remains on very
uncertain (or more literally "on shaky") ground.

3. Although certain of the suggestions that have propelled the recent
dialogue on Orion may turn out to have been premature, many of the
comments have been interesting, provocative and even helpful.


S. Pfann

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