I never bought Roland de Vaux's theories in the first place ... and I owe it to the well reasoned argumentation of my Hebrew, OT Survey, and History of Ancient Israel profs at Talbot that I didn't!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.Based on lectures I was fortunate enough to attend, the consensus among conservative evangelical scholars seemed to be there was a rush to judgement (read publication) by the "scholars" mentioned above.... 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.I recall one prof (don't recall who) relating how many scholars he admired and respected were of the opinion the Qumran area was some kind of hot baths or something, where pools of water were required, since they were everywhere. This was in the mid 80s.
The archaeologists, Yizhak Magen and Yuval Peleg of the Israel Antiquities Authority, reported in a book and a related magazine article that their extensive excavations turned up pottery kilns, whole vessels, production rejects and thousands of clay fragments.By the time the Romans destroyed Qumran in A.D. 68 in the Jewish revolt, the archaeologists concluded, the settlement had been a center of the pottery industry for at least a century. Before that, the site apparently was an outpost in a chain of fortresses along the Israelites' eastern frontier.Knowing of the behind the scenes political intrigue by some in possession of unpublished scroll fragments in the 80s, it doesn't surprise me when new revelations about the scrolls and the area are made.
"The association between Qumran, the caves and the scrolls is, thus, a hypothesis lacking any factual archaeological basis," Dr. Magen said in an article in the current issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.
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