Skeletons could provide clues to who wrote or protected the Dead Sea Scrolls | Science News

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Skeletons could provide clues to who wrote or protected the Dead Sea Scrolls

Few women or children have been found at Qumran burial site, suggesting similarities to Byzantine monastery cemeteries

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2:05pm, November 17, 2017
dead sea scrolls

SCROLL CALL  Newly excavated skeletons at a roughly 2,000-year-old West Bank site support a theory that a community of celibate men lived there at the time the Dead Sea Scrolls were placed in nearby caves. These men may have written or protected the scrolls.

BOSTON — A decades-long debate over who once occupied a settlement located near the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found has taken a chaste turn.

Analyses of 33 newly excavated skeletons of people buried at the West Bank site, Qumran, supports a view that the community consisted of a religious sect of celibate men. Anthropologist Yossi Nagar of the Israel Antiquities Authority in Jerusalem presented the findings November 16 at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research. Preliminary radiocarbon dating of one of the Qumran bones indicates that the interred bodies are around 2,200 years old — close to the same age as the ancient texts, which are estimated to have been written between around 150 B.C. and A.D. 70.

Plus, reexamination of 53 previously unearthed human skeletons from Qumran’s cemetery, now housed in France, found that six of seven individuals formerly tagged as women were actually men, Nagar said. A

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