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The Study of Man: More Light from Judean Caves

- Abstract

Both Israel and Jordan have displayed a commendable zeal in seeking, preserving, and publishing the archeological remains within their respective borders. The most sensational finds of recent years, however, have been made in the northern half of the Wilderness of Judah; actually, the decade that began in the spring of 1947 may come to be known in the history of archeological discovery in the Holy Land as the “Decade of the Wilderness of Judah.” The Wilderness itself is a narrow strip of very steep, broken, and arid land running between the Dead Sea and the watershed of the hill country of Judah.

In the northern half of the Wilderness, which lies inside the Kingdom of Jordan, manuscripts dating from antiquity came to light at or near Khirbet Qumran, in 1947-52, and Wadi Murabba’at, in 1951-52. At Khirbet Mird, in 1952-53, old manuscripts were recovered in the ruins of an ancient monastery but, being medieval, they do not concern us here. Those at the other two sites were found in caves, and I shall here anticipate my conclusions to the extent of noting that the Khirbet Qumran manuscripts were abandoned in the year 68 C.E., during the First Jewish Revolt (against Rome), and the Wadi Murabba’at ones—at least the most important of them—more than sixty-five years later, in 134-5 C.E, during the Second Jewish Revolt. At Khirbet Qumran, only one manuscript cave was known from 1947 through 1951, but five more were discovered in 1952. At Wadi Murabba’at, there are two “literate” grottoes.

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