Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Linen Indicates Scroll's Likely Essene Authorship

A Qumran cave near the site of the Essene settlement.

Analysis of fabrics found in caves at Qumran points to the Essenes sect as authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls. In all, some 200 textiles have been analyzed.

According to LiveScience.com:
The research reveals that all the textiles were made of linen, rather than wool, which was the preferred textile used in ancient Israel. Also they lack decoration, some actually being bleached white, even though fabrics from the period often have vivid colours. Altogether, researchers say these finds suggest that the Essenes, an ancient Jewish sect, "penned" some of the scrolls. 
A breakthrough in studying these remains was made in 2007 when a team of archaeologists was able to ascertain that colorful wool textiles found at a site to the south of Qumran, known as the Christmas Cave, were not related to the inhabitants of the site. This meant researchers were able to focus on the 200 textiles found in the Dead Sea Scroll caves and at Qumran itself, knowing that these are the only surviving textiles related to the scrolls.
However, the analysis is not conclusive proof. An archaeologist who has excavated at Qumran told LiveScience that the linen could have come from people fleeing the Roman army after the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, and that they are in fact responsible for putting the scrolls into caves.

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