Monday, August 21, 2006

Dead Sea Scrolls update Archaeologists Challenge Link Between Dead Sea Scrolls and Ancient Sect
New archaeological evidence is raising more questions about the conventional interpretation linking the desolate ruins of an ancient settlement known as Qumran with the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were found in nearby caves in one of the sensational discoveries of the last century.

After early excavations at the site, on a promontory above the western shore of the Dead Sea, scholars concluded that members of a strict Jewish sect, the Essenes, had lived there in a monastery and presumably wrote the scrolls in the first centuries B.C. and A.D.

Many of the texts describe religious practices and doctrine in ancient Israel.

But two Israeli archaeologists who have excavated the site on and off for more than 10 years now assert that Qumran had nothing to do with the Essenes or a monastery or the scrolls. It had been a pottery factory.

There's a link to a BAR article that is sub-only.

Hard to tell what to make of this, though to be honest I'd never really thought about what the specific links supposedly were that made the connection between the scrolls in the caves and that particular settlement, other than proximity. I do recall one television thing where what I thought was Qumran was surveyed and the various ritual bathing areas were shown. I suppose even a monastery has to do something for a living (like today's Benedictines). So I'll punt on this one and just throw it out there for anyone else to provide commentary/links upon.