Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Results from Excavations of Toilets at Qumran

One of the exciting announcements at the conference was made by Prof James Tabor before the conference on Nov 14th and on Sunday evening connecting Qumran with the scrolls:-

Bioarchaeological evidence from Qumran reconfirms the “Essene hypothesis” by showing the presence of unusual and extreme toiletry and hygiene practices in the ancient community. The evidence points to the Qumran inhabitants’ detailed obedience to unique, rigorously demanding precepts that are specified in Dead Sea Scrolls texts and also documented in a Roman-era descriptions of the Essenes.

Alas it seems the purity regulations shortened the life-span of the Essenes. Had the waste been dumped on the surface, as is the practice of Bedouins in the area, the parasites would have quickly been killed by sunlight. Buried, they could persist for a year or longer, infecting anyone who walked through the soil.

The situation was made worse by the fact that the Essenes had to pass through an immersion cistern, or miqvot, before returning to the settlement. The water would have served as a breeding ground for the parasites.

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