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. Accordingly, the description of the structure and belief systems of a religious community as we have it from the texts of the Community Rule (1QS), the War Scroll (1QM), the Thanksgiving Hymns (1QH) and the Damascus Document (CD) were important because they shed light on identifying the community as most probably the Jewish sect of the Essenes before excavations at Qumran had ensued. Furthermore, this long-held interpretation was underpinned by Pliny's Essene settlement on the north-western shore of the Dead Sea, south of Jericho. Interestingly, despite their interpretations based on the Cave 1 material, they failed to advance questions on the ecology and the economic and social context of Qumran itself.3 With modern day advances in radio carbon dating, we are not only able to date the scrolls and other archaeological finds with far greater precision, but far more importantly we are also able to incorporate such technology with other methods to focus more on the context of site itself, thus integrating both text and archaeology. Clearly, had it not been for the technology of C14 dating, our terms of palaeographic comparison for dating the scrolls would perhaps still solely have relied on the small Nash Papyrus, containing the Ten Commandments.
Apart from those who maintain the traditional theory, there also exists a minority of scholars who have suggested alternative theories while at the same time rejecting the long-held sectarian settlement theory originally proposed by de Vaux and recently reinforced by Magness. Some of the more vociferous dissenters of de Vaux's theory argue that the scrolls originated in Jerusalem and had no connection with the settlement at Qumran whatsoever.4 Two Belgian archaeologists, the Donceels have stated that Qumran was not a sectarian settlement but a villa rustica-that is, a country villa; Humbert has modified the Donceels' theory and proposed that Qumran was a villa during its initial