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QUMRAN , region on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, which has become famous since 1947 as the site of the discovery of the *Dead Sea Scrolls. The name belongs more particularly to Wadi Qumran, a precipitous watercourse which runs down to the sea from the west, and to Khirbet Qumran, a ruin standing less than a mile west of the sea on the marl terrace north of the wadi. Visitors to the region in earlier days, impressed by the fortuitous similarity of names, thought that Khirbet Qumran might be all that was left of Gomorrah. In 1873 C.S. *Clermont-Ganneau inspected the ruin, but was more interested in a cemetery lying between it and the sea. He came to no positive conclusions as a result of his inspection.

Occupation of Khirbet Qumran

In 1949, the possibility was raised of a connection between the discoveries in the first manuscript cave and Khirbet Qumran. A trial excavation was made on the site, but nothing was found which suggested any connection. In November and December 1951, three rooms were excavated. In the floor of one of them was found a jar of the same type as those in which the scrolls in Cave 1 had been placed, and along with it was a coin bearing a date equivalent to 10 c.e. Systematic campaigns of exploration were mounted in 1953, 1954, 1955, and 1956, in which the Jordan Department of Antiquities, the Palestine Archaeological Museum, and the French Dominican Ecole Biblique collaborated.

It soon became evident that the building complex had formed the headquarters of a fairly large and well-organized community. R. de Vaux, soon after the excavations began, expressed the belief that these were the headquarters of the *Essenes referred to by *Pliny the Elder in his Natural History (5:73), partly on the ground that nothing else in that region could correspond to Pliny's description. Pliny says that "below" the Essene headquarters lies *En-Gedi; since he is describing the Jordan Valley and Dead Sea region from north to south he may mean that En-Gedi lies south of the Essene headquarters; En-Gedi in fact lies some 22 miles (34 km.) south of Khirbet Qumran. But the identification of the community or *Yaḥad that occupied Khirbet Qumran cannot be determined on archaeological grounds alone.

The cemetery to the east of Khirbet Qumran proved to contain about 1,200 graves, laid out in parallel rows lying north and south, with the head to the south. The burials were as simple as possible; the bodies were neither placed in coffins nor accompanied by funeral offerings. In an eastern extension of the cemetery, skeletons of four women and one child were found. Skeletons of women and children were also identified in two other subsidiary cemeteries lying north and south respectively of Wadi Qumran. Pottery in the earth-filling of the graves indicated that the burials belonged to the same general period as the community occupation of Khirbet Qumran.

The site of Khirbet Qumran had been occupied at various times in antiquity. At a low level were found the remains of walls and pottery of Iron Age ii (8th–7th centuries b.c.e.). A potsherd inscribed with Phoenician characters and a royal seal stamped on a jar handle belonged to this period, as did also a deep circular cistern which, centuries later, was incorporated

in an elaborate system of aqueducts and reservoirs. This phase of occupation may be correlated with the statement that Uzziah king of Judah (c. 790–740 b.c.e.) "built towers in the wilderness and hewed out many cisterns" (ii Chron. 26:10). M. Noth has suggested that at this period the site was known as Ir ha-Melaḥ ("city of salt," Josh. 15:61).

Chief interest attaches to the abundant evidence for the occupation of the site in the Greco-Roman period. In this period Roland de Vaux, the excavator, distinguished the following phases of occupation:


May have been constructed by John Hyrcanus i (134–104 b.c.e.) or more likely by one of his predecessors, i.e., Jonathan (152–142 b.c.e.) or Simon (142–134 b.c.e.), due to the presence of a relatively significant number of coins of John Hyrcanus i and Antiochus vii (138–129 b.c.e.). It was occupied at that time by a people who cleared the circular cistern, built two rectangular stepped pools beside it, constructed a few rooms around these, and installed two pottery kilns in the Iron Age enclosure.


Occupation of a much enlarged area, with two- and three-storey buildings, and an elaborate system of ritual immersion pools and cisterns (incorporating the earlier ones) connected by channels and supplied by an aqueduct from a dam built to store the water which runs down Wadi Qumran in the rainy season. This phase began quite possibly during the reign of John Hyrcanus I and was terminated by a severe earthquake (almost certainly the famous one of 31 b.c.e.) followed by an extensive fire.


After about a quarter of a century of abandonment, the building complex was reoccupied and was restored following the lines of phase ib but was reinforced at various points against earthquake damage. Based upon numismatic evidence this phase came to an end during the First Revolt, in the year 68 c.e.


Non-Jewish coins ranging from 67/68 c.e. until 72/73 c.e. seem to indicate that a Roman garrison was stationed among the ruins of the site from 68 until 73 c.e., and withdrew immediately after the fall of Masada.

The site was again abandoned until the Bar Kokhba War (132–135 c.e.), as evidenced by coins, when the site served revolutionaries as a hiding place or center of resistance.

Description of Khirbet Qumran

The main building of the complex in phases Ib and ii was roughly 37 meters square, of large undressed stones, with a strong tower at the northwest corner. There were several large rooms suitable for assembly rooms or refectories. Adjoining the largest of these rooms (on the south side of the building) was a smaller room containing over 1,000 earthenware vessels – all the varieties necessary for kitchen and refectory use. They may have been manufactured on the spot, since the excavations brought to light the best preserved pottery factory thus far found in ancient Palestine, complete with kilns and levigating pit. A first-storey room in the southwest part of the building (upper loc. 30) was evidently furnished with inkwells and plastered writing tables as a writing room (scriptorium). Flour mills, storage bins, ovens, a laundry, a stable, furnaces, and workshops with metal implements were also uncovered. The occupants apparently aimed at being as self-sufficient as possible. The building complex does not seem to have included sufficient sleeping quarters; tents or the neighboring caves may have served the occupants for rest and shelter.

The elaborate series of pools, designed to ensure a plentiful water supply, has excited special interest; there has been a tendency to relate these to the prescriptions regarding cleansing in water laid down in the Manual of *Discipline found in the Qumran caves. It is especially in one of these pools that the damage from the earthquake is still most clearly visible. The 14 stone steps of the largest pool (loc. 85/86), to the east of the site, show a central crack running down from top to bottom, so that their eastern half has sunk nearly half a meter below the level of the western half. When the site was reoccupied some 30 years after the earthquake, this pool could not be used as it no longer held water; a new one was excavated southeast of the building. Other major repairs were effected at the same time: the walls were strengthened and the northwestern tower was reinforced.

Chronology of Khirbet Qumran

The record of the phases of the occupation of Khirbet Qumran is indicated most clearly by the coins found in the course of excavations on the site. About 650 coins of the Greco-Roman period have come to light. The coin record starts with Antiochus vii of the Seleucid dynasty (139–129 b.c.e.) and his contemporary John Hyrcanus (135–104 b.c.e.) and goes on without a break to Antigonus, the last Hasmonean king (40–37 b.c.e.). Coins of Alexander Yannai (103–76 b.c.e.) are especially frequent. Only five coins from Herod's reign (37–4 b.c.e.) have come to light. The record is resumed with coins of Archelaus (4 b.c.e.–6 c.e.) and continues with those of the procurators and a particularly large number of Herod Agrippa's coins (37–44 c.e.). There are 73 coins from the second year of the war against Rome (67–68 c.e.) and several from the following year, contemporary with these are coins minted in the coastal cities of Caesarea, Dora, and Ashkelon; later are a coin of Agrippa ii (86 c.e.), one of Vespasian (69–79 c.e.), three of Trajan (98–117 c.e.), one of the type struck by the liberation leaders during the second revolt. It is doubtful whether a hoard of 563 silver coins hidden in three pots in a floor to the west of the building can be related to the occupation of Khirbet Qumran. The hoard was comprised primarily of tetradrachmas and didrachmas of Antiochus vii (earliest dated 139/138 b.c.e.) and Demetrius ii (later reign) along with shekels and half shekels of Tyre, the latest of which was dated 10/9 b.c.e. These coins may have been hidden there toward the end of the period of abandonment between Phases Ib and ii or at the very beginning of Period ii.

A sample of charcoal from the room where the large number of earthenware vessels (Loc. 89) was found was subjected to the radiocarbon test, which yielded a date of 16 c.e. (with a margin of deviation of 80 years either way) for the age of the wood, and a date of 66 c.e. (with a similar margin of deviation) for the burning. Phase ii of the occupation of Khirbet Qumran was brought to an end not by earthquake but by fire and sword. The destruction was much more thorough than that caused by the earthquake 100 years earlier. The walls were demolished, a layer of black ash covered the site, and a quantity of arrowheads added their silent testimony to the picture. De Vaux concluded that that the building was attacked and stormed by the Romans in the summer of 68 c.e. because of the paucity of First Revolt bronzes which date to that year. (However it should not be discounted that perhaps the site was destroyed by revolutionaries, who were known for their "scorched earth" policy, on the eve of the Vespasian's scourge of Judea.)

A few rooms were built over the ruins and occupied by a Roman garrison which appears to have been stationed there for a few years. The brief occupation of the site by an insurgent garrison during the second revolt was followed by the complete destruction of its surviving fortifications.

The chronology of the occupation of Khirbet Qumran, archaeologically established, agrees remarkably well with that of the nearby manuscript caves and their contents, paleographically established.(The paleographical evidence is supplemented by the application of pottery dating to the jars in which the manuscripts of Cave 1 were placed and by the application of the radiocarbon test to some of the linen in which these manuscripts were wrapped before being placed in the jars, although the radiocarbon test involves too large a margin of deviation to be helpful when precise dating within decades is required.) A close connection between the occupants of the building and the manuscripts in the caves is cogently indicated; the community described in the "community documents" and the community which manifestly occupied Khirbet Qumran must have been one and the same community; at least, it would require specially conclusive arguments to make it probable that they were two separate communities.

Additional Phases

After 50 years, the time has come to reassess De Vaux's proposed phases, based on data from recent excavations of Qumran's immediate periphery (sequentially: Y. Magen and Y. Peleg; M. Broshi and H. Eshel; O. Guttfeld and R. Price), in which refuse dumps and agricultural terraces were examined in the immediate vicinity. Along with these investigations, a fresh review of De Vaux's excavation and its associated material culture by Donçeel, Humbert, and Chambon, along with new light from recent scientific analyses (Humbert and Gunneweg (eds.), Khirbet Qumrân et 'Ain Feshkha, vol II., 2003) provide evidence for three additional phases at the site, and at least four separate sources in the caves.

interim period

De Vaux's "Period of Abandonment" (ca. 31–10 b.c.e.), during which the site was not entirely abandoned. A large pit containing hundreds of carbonized dates which cuts through the southern drainage system suggests that date farmers (perhaps lay Essenes), occupied the site during this period.

period iib

During the last years of Period ii (ca. 66–68 c.e.), during a period of social upheaval, political strife, and war, Qumran was taken over by another group, likely revolutionaries. Hoards of Revolt coins, stoneware, new pottery forms (differing in form and proportions from the communal pantries of loci 89 and 114), and light weapons (including knives and arrow heads) were recovered from this period, which preceded the Roman occupation of the site.

period iiib

Another "Period of Abandonment" according to De Vaux (ca. 73–132 c.e.). Numerous items, including late first and early second century coins (Vespasian and Trajan), numerous shards of glass, a spindle whorl, a stone vase and white strainer jugs indicate that a non-military occupation at the site extended well beyond that of the Roman garrison (which ended ca. 73 c.e. according to De Vaux), an occupation that seems to have extended into the early second century.

The Caves of Qumran

After the first two "scroll caves" were discovered in 1947 (Cave 1q) and 1952 (Cave 2q), a survey of the cliffs in the vicinity of Qumran was conducted during March 1952. Upon completion of the survey, the caves and sites which contained archaeo-logical remains were numbered, from north to south, "Survey Cave gq1" through "Survey Cave gq40." Certain scroll caves that were found in the cliffs (specifically, 1q, 2q, 3q, and 6q) were also assigned Survey cave numbers (gq14, gq19, gq8 and gq26, respectively). Subsequent caves in which manuscripts were discovered were numbered in the sequence of their discovery, yielding Scroll caves 1q through 11q, the last being discovered in January 1956. These two separate numbering systems were conceived at that time and continue to be used for all Qumran caves of archaeological import identified between 1947 and 1956. However, the two categories of caves and their numbers have often become confused in the literature. In April 1956 two adjacent caves without manuscripts were discovered and excavated to the northeast of cave 3q (= gq8) and were called "Cave a" and "Cave b." In 1963, an additional cave with abundant remains, but no manuscripts, was discovered by John Allegro and his team as part of the "Copper Scroll Expedition" and was dubbed "The Christmas Cave," since King Hussein of Jordan visited the cave on that day. A third system of enumeration has arisen with the cave surveys and excavations of Y. Patrich between 1984 and 1991, for which we will use the numbers "pq1–pq24."

The Caves of Qumran can be divided into five distinct clusters:

Cave Cluster of the Marl Terrace Adjacent to the Qumran Site. Southwest Caves 4 Spur. qa, 4qb, 5q and 10q. The complex is located 80 meters southwest of the buildings of Qumran on a spur of the marl formation separated from the site by a narrow ravine. The Bedouin discovered caves 4qa and 4qb simultaneously, with the result that the fragments from the two caves arrived at the museum mixed and indistinguishable. Thus these adjacent but separate caves were delineated "4q" by de Vaux with regard to the manuscripts and other items collected by

DatesDe Vaux's PhasesModified de VauxNature of OccupationDatable LociCoinsLampsPantryCharacteristic Mterial CultureCave/Manu-script Collection (Time of Deposition)
8th–6th cent. b.c.e.Iron IIIron IISettlement, perhaps farmstead; cf. II Chron. 26:10Below 73, 80, 68, 86, 88; outside 6, 40; north of 38Not applicableLate Iron Age(unknown)LMLK jar handles; hole mouth jars11Q; GQ6, 13, 27, 39; GQA, B; Christmas Cave
c 150–130IaIaPre Essene, farmsteadUnder 30; under 66Demetrius I (early reign)Hellenistic: Tr A, del.niform; west trench (Broshi/Eshel)(unknown): includes fish plates (cf. loc. Under 30)Villa rustica with agricultural terraces(unknown)
c 130–31IbIbEssene (mainly Yahad)89, 48/49, 52, 53, 16Antiochus VII, John Hyrcanus IQumran type: loc 130, 1Q.1; Hellenistic RadialCommunal: loc. 86/89; 1 cup : 3 dishes : 10 bowlsRitual communal meals; numerous mikvaot; lots1Q Phase A (part of 4Q, 5Q)
31–4AbandonedInterimLay Essenes? Date farmersSouth 75 (pit with dates)Shekel hoards A, B & CHerodian Radial(unknown)Pit full of dates(unknown)
4 b.c.e.–66 c.e.IIIIaEssene (first Yahad then Lay)114Procurators, Agrippa IHerodian A and BCommunal: loc. 114; 1 cup : 3 dishes : 10 bowlsRitual communal meals; numerous mikvaot; lots1Q Phase B; 6Q (part of 4Q, 5Q)
66–68IIIIbRevolutionaries2, 4, 30, 45a–c, 59, 611st Revolt coin hoardsHerodian CPersonal: loc. 2, 4, 45a–c, 59, 61, upper 77; 10 cups : 10 dishes : 10 bowlsStoneware; numerous spherical juglets; carinated bowls2Q; ostracon 1 (Year 2)
67–83IIIIIIaRoman Outpost(none)Roman provincial coins 67-73 CE(none)(unknown)Hob nails (on paths)Northern Cluster; includes 3Q, 11Q (c 70 c.e., likely Zealot); not associated with Qumran site.
c 73–132AbandonedIIIbPost-Essene occupation14, 15, 16, 20, 21, 24, upper 34Vespasian, Agrippa II (86 CE), TrajanDiscus lamp 4Q, molded lamps(unknown)Glass, stoneware, pseudo–Nabatean painted; white strainer jugs, spindle whorlNone
c 132–135Bar KokhbaIIIcRevolutionaries29Second Revolt coins(unknown)(unknown)(unknown)Christmas Cave

the Bedouin. However, when describing the findings from his own excavations, De Vaux was able to distinguish them as "4qa" and "4qb".

Southern Spur: Caves 7q, 8q and 9q.

The complex is located at the southern end of the same marl terrace, 90 meters directly south of the building complex of Qumran and connected to it by the southern enclosure. The three caves, whose roofs had collapsed, are accessible only from within the confines of the enclosure wall.

Cave Cluster of the Northern Cliffs.

Caves 3q and 11q; Survey Caves gq1–11; Caves a and b; pq13, pq. The northern cliffs lie between the wadi that divides the cliffs two kilometers to the north of Qumran and the Rijm al-Asbah "the rock of the thumb," about one kilometer further north.

Cave Cluster of the Central Cliffs.

Caves 1q, 2q; Survey Caves gq12–21. This cluster stretches for one-half kilometer along the cliffs, about one and one-half kilometers to the north of Qumran.

Cave Cluster of Qumran's Wadi and Southern Cliffs.

Cave 6q, Survey Caves gq22–32, "Christmas Cave." The caves of the southern cliffs lie along a one-half kilometer stretch south of the Wadi Qumran.

Cave Cluster of the Ein Feshkha Cliffs

Survey Caves gq. This stretch of cliffs begins 33–40. 2.75 kilometers south of Qumran and extends southward for 2.5 kilometers, ending at Ras Feshkha, with the spring of Ein Feshkha at the center.

Pottery and Dating of the Caves

The caves in the cliffs contained material from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (flint blades), Chalcolithic (pottery sherds), Iron ii (lamps and bowls), Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic periods. The most substantial and widespread remains were from the first century c.e., including the typical cylindrical jars and, less commonly, lamps, cooking pots, tableware and, of course, the scrolls themselves. Many of the caves were visited on more than one occasion in antiquity, providing remains from more than one period in the same cave. Most periods represented by the remains from the caves have counterparts in the stratified remains of Khirbet Qumran.

In certain cases, the date of the remains in the cliffs reflects a time of hiding and transition in the occupation of the site. This is also true of the various hidden scroll deposits, the approximate date of the deposition being concurrent with the latest paleographically dated manuscript in the collection. On the other hand, the remains from the caves in Khirbet Qumran's marl terrace have a different history of use than those in the cliffs. The deposition of manuscripts there took place continuously over a long period of time and can be dated within a limited frame: no earlier than the late second century b.c.e. and no later than the end of the first century c.e. (roughly concurrent with periods ib and ii).

On occasions when domestic pottery has been found in a cave – including collections of lamps, cooking pots, table-ware, and food remains – this would indicate that individuals hid in or used the caves as temporary lodging (although these occupants should not necessarily be identified as those who hid the scrolls). Domestic pottery, especially lamps, provides an important means toward pinpointing periods of occupation, as in Iron ii lamps (caves 11q and gq39), Hellenistic lamps (1q), and lamps from the second half of the first century c.e. or First Revolt (caves 1q, 3q, 4q, 8q, 10q, 11q, gq29, gq39, pq13, pq24).

Cylindrical Jars

From the initial moment that the first scrolls were said to have been found in a certain, cylindrically shaped jar in Cave 1, it was assumed that those hitherto unknown jars were manufactured specifically to store scrolls. Even though the original excavator consistently called the jars "cylindrical jars," scholars preferred to utilize the term "scroll jars" whenever a new jar of this type was found. The facts, however, show that the jars were not all intended for carrying scrolls. This is clear from the fact that most of these jars were not found with scrolls in them and very few scrolls that were discovered were actually found in jars. Also, most caves which contained cylindrical jars or their lids had no trace of even a single manuscript inside the cave (e.g., gq1–3, 7, 10, 12, 15, 17–18, 21, 22, 28–32, 39, 40; pq13, pq24).

It also has been assumed that these jars were manufactured at Qumran. However, after recent chemical analyses of the cylindrical jars by Gunneweg and Bala, it was concluded that at least 75% of the cylindrical jars from the caves, and more than 50% of those from the site of Qumran, were derived from the Jerusalem area, having been made from clay from the Jerusalem/Motsa flow. The remainder were proven to derive primarily from the regions of Qumran and Jericho and were further distinguished by detectable variations in form, color and manufacture. Those in the caves which derived from Jerusalem were often accompanied by lamps or domestic wares dating to the second half of the first century c.e., indicating that they were most likely hidden there during the period of the First Revolt.

The fact that most of the jars were found empty, and yet had been purposely hidden, seems to indicate that they were valued aside from their contents. Furthermore, it appears that most of the jars, especially the tall cylindrical jars, were not originally intended to contain scrolls. Rather, they were intended for the collection of levitical tithes. They are designated by the term kelei dema', "tithe jars," and are frequently listed among the hidden treasures in the Copper Scroll (3q15) without any reference to their actual contents (if they had any). One of the jars from cave 3q was marked twice with the letter tet which characterizes certain jars of this type as similarly found at Masada. (Cf. M. Ma'aser 4:11, "If a vessel was found on which was written a kof, it is korban; if a mem, it is ma'aser; if a dalet, it is demai; if a tet, it is tevel.") It is more likely that only the shorter jars with handles were used for archival purposes. The handles were actually used as anchors for tying down the lid; parallels of such practices have been found in Egypt. However, the scrolls of an active community library were not placed in archive jars for extended periods of time but were normally stored on shelves inset into the walls of a room (com-pare, e.g., the Celsus library at Ephesus, the library at Nizanna, and, apparently, Qumran loc. 2). The only reason the contents of a library might be found in a cave, whether in jars or not, would be to set aside worn or damaged scrolls in a genizah or to temporarily hide the scrolls from imminent danger. If the latter case is true for the cliffs of Qumran, those who hid them did not survive to retrieve them according to plan.

Diverse Caves and Libraries of Qumran

It has been generally assumed that the numerous manuscripts from the Qumran caves (and those from Masada!) were once part of a single library, produced and kept by a singular movement of people, known within the scrolls as the "Yaḥad" or the "Sons of Light" (and by their contemporaries as the "Essenes"). The various manuscript deposits, however, when examined by content and context, by what unites them and what divides them, tell a different story. Their unique and dissimilar features reveal that their owners actually came from diverse groups, who hid the scrolls at different times.

A survey of the contents of each manuscript collection confirms that, in all cases, the Books of Moses were central to each collection, reflecting the common Jewish background of the peoples who deposited the manuscripts. However, the Torah manuscripts were supplemented in each collection by other Jewish writings, which reveal the views of its owners and help to define each group. This feature along with certain variations in material remains from each scroll cave provides evidence as to the identity of individual groups who harbored each manuscript collection.

The general character of a group, whether priestly or lay, is indicated by a number of predictable elements. If, for example, a library predominantly contains works such as rulebooks, liturgies, and multiple copies of the Book of Psalms – a collection which helps to define and support the role of priesthood – then priests must have comprised the core group (e.g., the collections of caves 1q and 11q). If the supplemental material contains rule books, copies of the "five megillot" (pocket scrolls read by the laity during the feasts), and legendary texts which define and support the role of the laity, then the collection likely belonged to a lay group (e.g., the collections from caves 2q, 3q, 6q and perhaps 5q). If the collection contains a mixture of these features, then it might represent a genizah for both priestly and lay communities (e.g., the contents of cave 4q and perhaps 5q), or the library of a community which composed of both priestly and lay elements (e.g., Masada).

The specific sectarian leanings of the owners can be discerned by the contents of their rulebooks and the supplemental literature they preserve within the collection, or even possibly by which texts are excluded. These leanings appear to go in two directions: (1) Caves 1q, 4q, 5q and 6q, which as a group preserve libraries of the two divisions of the "Sons of Light," the priestly Yaḥad "Community" and the laity Israelites (both divisions of which are, by nature, ideologically and typically "Essene" as described by Josephus; the term "Qumran Community" is inappropriate since the movement, as described in the scrolls, was not confined to this site), and (2) Caves and sites which preserve libraries which ideologically support and belong to various groups involved in the First Revolt (potentially including especially the Sicarii, the followers of Simon bar Giora, the Zealots and others described by Josephus in his Jewish Wars).

caves 1q, 4q, 5q, and 6q

Cave 1q: This Yahad collection, in addition to being of a priestly character, is all written on parchment, and contains one copy each of all of the major works identified with the Yahad and its founder the Moreh Ẓedek, especially the Rule of the Community, two copies of the Thanksgiving Hymns and most of the community's commentaries (lacking, however, the Temple Scroll and Ben Sira, which support divergent views). The group also avoids authoring pseudepigraphic works. 1q contained at least 75 manuscripts from about 125 b.c.e. to 25 c.e., with two peaks in accession (14% from c. 100–75 b.c.e. and 43% from 31–1 b.c.e.). Since accessions ended by 25 c.e., this must be the approximate date that this library was removed from Qumran and hidden in the cave. This may provide a terminus ad quem for the presence of the priestly Yaḥad at Qumran. The textiles from 1q were of unbleached, "off-white" linen, often with blue dyed indigo or tekhelet pin-stripes woven into the fabric.

Cave 6q: This Essene collection of lay character (including a megillah of the Song of Songs) is written primarily on papyrus and contains one copy of the lay rule book, the Damascus Document.

Cave 4q: The special case of cave 4q is that, as a genizah, it contains more than 700 worn copies of parchment and papyrus scrolls, sometimes from diverse sources, copied over long periods of time (in this case, dating from the late third cent. b.c.e. to the late first cent. c.e., with at least 70% deriving from the period between 75 b.c.e. and 25 c.e.). The cave contains books of Essene institutional interest, both from a priestly and a lay perspective. There is a broad and mixed offering of scrolls topically (Bible, Apocrypha, parabiblical, liturgical, legal, calendrical, and legendary texts), yet an avoidance of works which would be considered errant, such as Ben Sira, the Books of Maccabees, and all works of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

Cave 5q may also belong to the adjacent cave 4qa/4qb genizah complex, as it contains parchment scrolls (including both the Community Rule and the Damascus Document), though of a more limited age span. (If it is not a genizah, then a lay character might be assigned to this collection, since it contains two megillot of the book of Lamentations)

caves 11q and 3q

Cave 11q: A non-Essene collection of a priestly character, located in the northern cave cluster, Cave 11q contains three copies of the pseudepigraphic rulebook the Temple Scroll, a chapter of Ben Sira (in 11q Psalmsa), and promotes Ezekiel among the prophets (perhaps due to its emphasis on the future temple and its promotion of the Zadokites). The library contains no certain works that promote the history or views of the Moreh Ẓedek and his followers. The textiles derived from this cave were almost exclusively bleached white (as opposed to the usual natural off-white, as in Cave 1q and elsewhere) and often with blue indigo pin-stripes woven in.

Cave 3q, located in the same cave cluster as 11q, is of non-Essene, lay character (including a Lamentations megillah). It is likely connected with the Zealots, the self-appointed protectors of the Temple and its treasures, since it contained the Copper Scroll, which enumerates the locations where priestly paraphernalia, Temple treasures, and tithe jars were hidden.

Sixty-five percent of the at least 46 manuscripts from caves 11q and 3q come from the last 25 years before the fall of Jerusalem and 90% of the manuscripts come from the 1st century c.e. It would seem that these, and the other caves of the northern cluster, were inhabited briefly at the end of the First Revolt. The best candidate for ownership of these manuscript collections would seem to be the group of rebels led by the Zealot general Judah ben Jair who came down from Jerusalem to the jungle of the Jordan to take their last stand, along with another group of refugees from Machaerus (Jos., Wars, 7:210–15).

cave 2q

Cave 2q, although it is in the same cluster as cave 1q, is not likely connected with the Essenes since it contains no community documents and includes Ben Sira. It is of lay character (containing two megillot of the Book of Ruth) and is likely connected with the revolutionaries (perhaps with Simeon bar Giora's group).

the case of masada

Early during the revolt Masada became the sole stronghold and residence of the Sicarii. The founder Judah the Galilean and his successors were called "teachers" by Josephus (Wars, 2:118). There is no reason to believe that this group would not keep an institutional library. The cache of scrolls found at Masada that once were thought to connect with the Qumran scrolls are no longer considered to be either Yaḥad or Essene in character. The corpus of manuscripts from Masada should be viewed as the remnants of a Sicarii library, written mainly on parchment, with certain lay and priestly components. (The various extraneous papyrus documents derived from the Roman occupation of the site must be treated separately.)

CAVES 7q, 8q, 9q, and 10q: The remains from cave 7q, which contained only Greek manuscripts, and cave 8q, which contained Psalms, a liturgical work, a phylactery and a mezuzah, although having a definable character, are too sparse to be able to connect them with the other caves. The manuscripts from Caves 9q and 10q are not definable. However, in light of the food remains and lamps from all four of these caves, they all appear to have been used at the end of period IIb as residences for the rebels. This is also true with respect to most of the caves throughout the cliffs. In the Ein Feshkha cluster most of the caves contain remains from the post-70 c.e. period.


R. de Vaux, L'Archéologie et les manuscrits de la mer morte (1961); J. van der Ploeg, The Excavations at Qumran (1958); J.T. Milik, Ten Years of Discovery in the Wilderness of Judaea (1959); Zeuner, in: pefqs, 92 (1960), 27ff. add. bibliography: archaeology of qumran and ein feshkha: R. de Vaux, Archaeology and the Dead Sea Scrolls (1972); R. de Vaux, with J.-B. Hum-bert and A. Chambon, Fouilles de Khirbet Qumran et de Aïn Feshkha I (1994). S. Pfann, The Excavations of Qumran and Ein Feshkha (2003; annotated English edition of R. de Vaux's excavation notes); J.B. Humbert and J. Gunneweg (eds.), Khirbet Qumrân et 'Ain Feshkha II: Etudes d'anthropologie, de physique et de chimie (2003) – Y. Magen and Y. Peleg; M. Broshi and H. Eshel; O. Guttfeld and R. Price; archaeology of the qumran caves: 1q: Harding, de Vaux, Crowfoot, Discoveries in the Judaean Desert i (1955). 2q–3q, 5q–11q; Survey Caves 1–40; Caves a and b: R. de Vaux and J.T. Milik, djd iii (1962); 4qa and 4qb: de Vaux, Carswell and Barnes, djd vi (1977). survey caves: S. Pfann, The Excavations of Qumran and Ein Feshkha (2003); "Sites in the Judean Desert Where Texts Have Been Found," The Dead Sea Scrolls on Microfiche: A Comprehensive Facsimile Edition of the Texts from the Judean Desert (in collaboration with Emanuel Tov, 1993); "Kelei dema,'" Tithe Jars, Scroll Jars, and Cookie Jars," in: G. Brooke and P. Davies (eds.), Proceedings of the Manchester Copper Scroll Conference (2002); J. Patrich, "Khirbet Qumran in Light of New Archaeological Explorations in the Qumran Caves," in: Methodsof Investigation of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Khirbet Qumran Site: Present Realities and Prospects (1994). the christmas cave: J. Allegro, Search the Desert (1964). M. Bélis, "Des textiles: catalogues et commentaries: Les Textiles de Christmas Cave," in: J.B. Humbert and J. Gunneweg (eds.), Khirbet Qumrân et 'Ain Feshkha ii, 211–221 (includes a list of other remains from the cave in Tablau 2).

[Frederick Fyvie Bruce /

Stephen Pfann (2nd ed.)]


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Qumran Ancient village on the nw shore of the Dead Sea, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. In 1947, the Dead Sea Scrolls (writings of a Jewish sect that settled in Qumran c.100 bc–ad 68) were found in nearby caves.


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Qumran a region on the western shore of the Dead Sea; the Dead Sea Scrolls were found (1947–56) in caves at nearby Khirbet Qumran, the site of an ancient Jewish settlement. Qumran also denotes the religious community located in Khirbet Qumran during the beginning of the Christian era, which preserved the scrolls.