Biblical Archaeology Review 24:1, January/February 1998

The Enigma of Qumran

Four archaeologists assess the site

By Hershel Shanks

If you want to understand how archaeologists think, how they reason, how they work, how they interpret finds—and why they sometimes disagree—you will enjoy this discussion among four prominent archaeologists who know as much about Qumran and its excavation as can be known today.

Long associated with the Dead Sea Scrolls found in nearby caves, Qumran was excavated between 1951 and 1956 by the late Father Roland de Vaux of the École Biblique et Archéologique Française in Jerusalem. De Vaux died in 1971 without publishing a final report.

For some, Qumran is the key to understanding the scrolls. But for everyone it is a fascinating site in its own right as scholars struggle to understand it—and to learn from it.

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