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orion-list A freindly clarification
"Rochelle I. Altman" wrote:
> Professor Pfann,
> I thank you for your support. .... etc
If it seems that I somehow am supporting a thesis that soldiers were manning
the site at Qumran from the Hellenistic to the Roman periods, I am certainly
doing so unwittingly.
Even aside from an "Essene hypothesis", neither I nor my colleagues here
believe, even for a moment, that the material culture of Kh. Qumran supports
the thesis of a Judean military camp or fortress.
Even the very basic requirements for a fortress are lacking at Qumran.
>From the excavations of Qumran:
1) pottery types and frequencies (many unique forms, unassociated with a
2) coins frequencies (parallels with cities like Jerusalem and not fortresses
like Masada or Herodion),
3) inscriptional material (literary documents with few ostraca; instead of
letters, rations lists and contacts as would be expected in military
4) paraphernalia of daily life (domestic, agricultural; the existence of 8
arrow heads out of 4500 objects is hardly military),
5) installations (especially the numerous pools) set the site apart from all
other Judean fortresses and camps.
6) The architecture. The outer walls of the building are meager (domestic
even) and can be too easily be breached to be of military use. (The existence
of a tower is the norm for desert settlements and monasteries (cf. Hirshfeld's
publications for the many examples).
***The English edition of the Excavations of Qumran and Ein Feshkha will go to
press in January.
Work on other volumes are nearing completion (for example: the ceramics volume
is projected for publication next year). For which contact: John-Baptiste
Humbert, Ecole Biblique Jerusalem who is the editor in chief of the series.
There is no need to raise questions about health and environment and then
speculate. I doubt that any of us currently checking the Orion page is
recognized to be an expert on these questions. However there are people who
are. The research has already been completed on these very questions by well
The professionals that we are in contact with on climate and environment are
the current experts in the field (with a specialty in the Judean Desert and
the Dead Sea region). Several of these actually live along the Dead Sea Coast
and know life in that environment first hand.
Three experts who have been quite helpful to us most recently are:
Eli Dror: Israel Nature Reserves Authority (for Dead Sea-North Coast)
Erez Baruchi: site manager of the Ein Feshkha National Park and Nature Reserve
Eli Raz: Kibbutz Ein Gedi
Also for archives of past and present publications and research on the above
The Hydrological Service of Israel, Jerusalem, Israel. (Israel Army) and
Climate Division: Meteorological Service of Israel POB 25 Bet Dagan, Israel.
Israel Department of Health, Jerusalem, Israel
One of the major contributions of the Orion page, for which I am grateful,
comes when a participant takes time to provide bibliographic details or
sources on relevant topics which may at times be from obscure sources or are
unavailable to others. (The provision of sources, properly cited and treated,
also may be a good indicator as to whether the participant has taken the time
to do their homework or not.)
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