By Amiram Barkat, Haaretz Correspondent
Located on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, Qumran is famous throughout the world as the place where the Essenes, who have been widely described in studies, conferences and exhibitions as a type of Jewish "monk," are said to have lived and written the Dead Sea Scrolls. However, based on findings soon to be published, Israeli archaeologists now argue that Qumran "lacks any uniqueness."
The latest research joins a growing school of thought attempting to explode the "Qumran myth" by stating that not only did the residents of Qumran live lives of comfort, they did not write the scrolls at all.
Two Israeli archaeologists, Yuval Peleg and Itzhak Magen, have recently completed 10 seasons of excavations at Qumran, sponsored by the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria. These are the most extensive digs since those conducted by Roland de Vaux half a century earlier. Among the finds were numerous pieces of jewelry, imported glass and expensive stone cosmetics containers.
"It's impossible to say that the people who lived at Qumran were poor," said Peleg. "It is also impossible that de Vaux did not see the finds we saw. He simply ignored what didn't suit him."