Biblical Archaeology Review 32:5, September/October 2006

Qumran—The Pottery Factory

Dead Sea Scrolls Not Related to Settlement, Says Excavator

By Hershel Shanks

Qumran, that desolate, supposedly monastery-like site with its ritual baths and communal dining room overlooking the Dead Sea, had nothing to do with the Dead Sea Scrolls found in nearby caves, according to a just-released study.

Your vision of a couple hundred celibate Essenes padding around praying whenever they were not copying scrolls in a special room designated “the scrollery,” only to end up buried in a silent cemetery of more than a thousand single graves, is a work of the imagination, not history or archaeology, says Israeli archaeologist Yizhak Magen.a

Qumran, he says, was just a pottery factory, manned by a few dozen workers at most. This conclusion, he says, is “inescapable.”

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