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orion-list "Scroll jars": inappropriate term

I would like to offer minor corrections to a post of Joe Zias
on "scroll jars".  From Zias on 15 Dec:  "Once again I have to 
set the record straight :-) Cave 1 contained 8 jars, three of 
which held manuscripts."

Those numbers may have been in the first excited newspaper 
reports in 1947, but the numbers proved quite elastic as the 
reporting continued.  Cave 1 was estimated by excavators to 
have the remains of over fifty jars (as reported in DJD 1).  
And in the end Muhammed ed-Dhib, one of the two Bedouin 
discoverers of Cave 1, claimed to have seen only one jar in 
Cave 1 with scrolls inside it (quoted, RQ 3 [1962]: 488); 
this jar, said ed-Dhib, was markedly shorter than all the others.
(The excavators did discover a piece of decomposed scroll
stuck to a broken neck of a jar.  This was widely interpreted as  
confirming that more scrolls were deposited inside jars.  While 
this is plausible, is this a certain conclusion?  Are there truly
no other reasonable, conceivable explanations for how a
decomposed piece of parchment might be found in modern 
times stuck to a potsherd?)  Zias:

"Therefore, for the record there is a direct association 
between some of the caves and the scrolls."

Presumably what is meant is "jars and scrolls".  The total 
number of jars around Qumran containing scrolls found by 
archaeologists is: none.  The total number of jars in caves 
around Qumran  which have been asserted from testimony 
of non-archaeologists--testimony probably no less reliable 
than any other testimony of two non-archaeologists with 
something to sell--to have been found containing scrolls 
is: one.    

Zias: "can we not assume that these are scroll jars and not 
water jugs?"

The opinion of de Vaux was that most of the huge number of jars 
of the kind commonly called "scroll jars" held food of some kind,
not water or scrolls (DJD III [1962], p. 35 ["ces jarres . . . ont servi
normalement, a garder des provisions"]; this is de Vaux's 
correction of his earlier opinion that most of the jars had held 
scrolls.)  Muhammed ed-Dhib himself reported seeing "reddish" 
seeds in numerous otherwise-empty, non-scroll-bearing, intact 
(before he smashed them) jars in Cave 1 (ed-Dhib, quoted at 
RQ 3 [1962]: 488).  A storage jar of the same type (i.e. a "scroll" 
jar [sic]) with food in it was reported found at the site of Qumran, 
in a Revue de Biblique notice around 1966 [I do not have the 
exact RB reference] (that jar was never published). 

It is not clear why the term "scroll jars" (a term never used by 
de Vaux himself) has retained such staying power.  There may
indeed have been multiple jars holding Qumran scrolls, but there 
is no hard evidence undergirding this widespread assumption--
however reasonable this assumption may be as a conjecture.  
And if multiple jars in Qumran-area caves did hold scrolls, it 
would be only a fraction of the use of these jars, which were 
found in numerous caves around Qumran without any trace 
of scrolls (full report in DJD 3).  These jars' "normal" function 
was food storage, pure and simple; or so de Vaux concluded, 
on what prima facie seem to be good grounds.  Minimally, the 
term "scroll jar" should be limited to types of jars securely 
identified, through findings in controlled excavations, as having 
been used for scroll deposits--which is to say, the term "scroll 
jar" as a term of archaeological description seems inappropriate 
and probably should be abandoned.  In this way the Qumran 
field might catch up to de Vaux 1962.

Greg Doudna
P.O. Box 132
Safety Harbor, FL 34695

For private reply, e-mail to Greg Doudna <gdoudna@earthlink.net>
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