Archaeologists Insist There Was a Community at Qumran

Amiram Barkat
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Amiram Barkat

The Qumran myth is alive and well, despite recent attempts to disprove it, according to archaeologists digging at the site.

The archaeologists, who are financed by Christian fundamentalist organizations, believe that despite recent theories to the contrary, there was a community at the place sometimes called "the oldest monastery in the Western world."

The archaeologists said at a news conference yesterday that they intend to find the proof that the residents of the site indeed wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls, found in nearby caves.

Sine the 1950s, many researchers have been persuaded that the Qumran site was the home of a community of Essenes, monastic Jews who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls.

But as reported in Haaretz two weeks ago, a recent dig has concluded that Qumran was "an ordinary settlement, nothing special," as archaeologist Yuval Peleg said.

According to Prof. Randall Price, an adjunct professor at Trinity Southwest University for Biblical Education in Albuquerque, "we are also digging at the site, and we think it is impossible to call it usual. There are very important findings that have yet to be examined and published."

Recent findings include large pots full of animal bones found under the homes, which are being sent for genetic tracing. The researchers believe it will prove that the leather on which the scrolls were written came from those animals.

Countering arguments that the fundamentalist backing for the dig means the research might be skewed, the Israeli advisor to the archaeological team, Oren Guttfeld, promised "we will publish every finding, even if it does not fit religious beliefs."

A representative of the dig's financiers, Dr. Gary Collett, said that irrespective of the findings, he will continue to believe Qumran is a holy site, "living proof of God's word, which is why it is so important to me and many Christians."

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