A re-examination of the contextualization of the Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls

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In the aftermath of de Vaux's excavations in the 1950's up until the mid 1980's, it has been commonly assumed that the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in the nearby caves constituted the library of a Jewish sectarian community (most probably of the Essene sect that lived at Qumran).


In light of recent scholarship, the traditional sectarian explanation of Qumran combined with a more nuanced approach may possibly reveal that the site had at least a dual purpose beyond that of a certain sectarian settlement and more specifically was a place for the development of communal activities, including the production or manufacture of pottery. Moreover, could it have been possible that the Essenes employed non-Essenes to do certain functions To be certain, it has long been argued since de Vaux's excavation reports, that when placed in a proper historical and archaeological context, the caves, the scrolls and the ruins are altogether interconnected.1
To shed some historical perspective, according to Davies, Brooke and Callaway, the basis for this interconnectivity was originally the texts themselves found in Cave 1 and their later interpretation by de Vaux's team of excavators, the members of the Cave 4 editorial team and most other scholars.2 Seemingly, of particular importance were E.L. Sukenik's survey publications in 1948-1949 which concluded that the religious community involved in the Cave 1 descriptions was the ascetic sect of the Essenes. ...
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