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Re: orion-list Water, Cemeteries, etc. (4 screens)
This discussion has served its purpose, which was to point out that the
life-style of the Essenes _as described_ is NOT adapted to the climate
at Qumran. I call it impossible, because they would not have lasted a
week in summer in that climate with their life-style. There are a few
loose ends to tie up before signing off.
Ein Feshkha is hardly in walking distance of Khirbet Qumran; the water for
living the life-style of the Essenes from day-to-day would still have to be
brought in from somewhere. More relevant to this discussion would be to
look up the history of modern Sedom and the attempts to create a "worker's"
settlement for about 50 people on site. Then look up current population
statistics on Sedom: there are none. The attempt failed; the workers commute.
Yes, you are missing something: 10 hours tramping around does not equal 1
hour of hard outdoor labor at 40 C. For typical 3-4 liters per hour water
*replacement* consumption under such conditions, watch a road-construction
crew at work. (Remember, the Essenes are described as working in fields --
hard outdoor labor.)
You wrote >I avoid those areas in which I have no expertise [snip]
Hmm. BTW, 500 plus gallons per diem transpiration rate for deciduous trees
sounds about right; however, a botantist should be asked about the trans-
piration rate for large date palms...
You also wrote: >Such is the Way of Science.
Such is NOT the "Way of Science," and even to capitalize 'science' indicates
a "soft" science approach. The key words that distinguish the hard sciences
from other fields are 'repeatable' and 'predictable'. In the hard sciences
one need not believe what a scientist says; one can check for oneself. If the
experiment cannot be *repeated* with the same *predicted* results, then the
conclusions are invalid. This repeatable requirement is why impossibilities
are exposed faster in the hard sciences.
There are sound reasons why archaeology and anthropology are classed as
"soft" sciences. A dig can be worked on for many seasons, but each trench is
new and nothing is repeatable. Nor can one predict precisely what one will
find. The same holds true for anthropology. One can correlate data and create
tables for comparison, but conclusions in both areas are as dependent as
those of textual scholars upon interpretation, and not upon a stringent
*repeatable* basis. Preconceptions are unavoidable, whatever one's area of
study, but invalid preconceptions fall by the way in the hard sciences when
they fail the *repeatable* test; arguments fueled by differences of inter-
pretation are the mark of the soft sciences, the humanities, and the arts.
We have seen that even if something is a "latrine" is open to argument.
This discussion on the graves at Khirbet Qumran fully illustrates the dis-
tinction between the hard sciences and other fields. It has been made pain-
fully clear that the "Essene" interpretation is unable to explain away the
inconsistencies.<1> Nobody can repeat the experiment to check for him- or
herself. What about looking at the data without presuppositions? What is
actually, physically there? A cemetery with "1200 dead men."
No matter its later use, and those cisterns remaining intact guarantee that
for many centuries people would know about and use the site as a source of
water in the desert, IF Khirbet Qumran was originally constructed as one of
a ring of fortresses of similar design, THEN that is originally a _military_
cemetery. Males will necessarily predominate in a military cemetery.
Synchronic graves at a military cemetery will all have the same orientation
and the bodies will be laid-out in the same manner. Later graves of different
orientation will be easy to spot; this ability to spot them is an art that
requires very little training, only a good eye for details and this art def-
initely is not a "Science." Nor is it odd to occasionally find the grave of
a female or child in such a cemetery.
Can we check the Essene approach? No. If Essene, this is a unique site. Can
we check the military approach? Yes. There are hundreds of military cemeteries
throughout the world with which to compare the site. Would this be definitive?
No. Nothing in the past is ever certain; all we ever have from the past is
probablities. All the soft sciences ever _can_ have is probablities. The only
scientific approach open to the soft sciences, the arts, and the humanities
is to examine incongrueties and inconsistencies; to scrutinize very carefully
the differences that show up on those tables and in those texts, and to find
those points that do NOT depend upon interpretation.
Neither archaeology nor anthropology meets the essential requirement for
scientific experiment. It would be well to bear this fact in mind.
<1> It was the inconsistencies that finally eliminated phlogiston, not the
methodology, which was sound.
Dr. Rochelle I. Altman, co-coordinator IOUDAIOS-L email@example.com
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