Newly Excavated Ancient Skeletons Unearthed In Qumran Could Give Clue On The Origins Of The Dead Sea Scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in the Qumran area of the West Bank in 1946. Since then, archaeologists have been puzzled on who wrote the scrolls. Now, researchers have unearthed ancient skeletons in Qumran, which could provide a clue on the origins of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The findings of the discovery were presented at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research in Boston, Massachusetts, last week. The research was led by Yossi Nagar, an anthropologist from the Israel Antiquities Authority, and other colleagues, according to Science Alert.

The researchers have found 33 skeletons about 2,200-years-old. These excavated skeletons are approximately the same age as the ancient texts, which may have been written between 150 B.C. and 70 A.D. The analysis of the researchers indicates that the skeletons belonged to a religious sect of celibate men during that period.

They also discovered that six of the seven human skeletons unearthed in the past and thought to be women were actually men. They only found a few skeletons of children at Qumran, according to Science News.

Hanania Hizmi and Yevgeny Aharonovich, anthropologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority, examined the newly excavated skeletons. They confirmed that they were males based on factors such as pelvic shape and body sizes. The men could range in age from about 20 to 50 or more at the time of their deaths, according to Nagar.

Nagar said that he doesn’t know if these were the people who created the Qumran region’s Dead Sea Scrolls. However, Nagar explained that the high concentration of adult males of different ages buried at Qumran is similar to what has been found at cemeteries connected to Byzantine monasteries.

No evidence of any war-related injuries to their bones was found, likely meaning they were not soldiers. The researchers also thought these men could belong to a community of ideologically celibate men since no women were found in the burials.

The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in the 11 caves in Qumran Caves near the Dead Sea between 1947 and 1956. The researchers found another scroll in another cave in the same place in February 2017. Ever since, the scholars have been baffled on who wrote these scrolls.

One hypothesis about this is that a celibate Jewish sect called the Essenes, who lived at Qumran, probably wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls or could have been caretakers of these religious and philosophical documents. On the other hand, in the course of 30 years, they were reports that there were people other than the Essenes who inhabited Qumran. These include craftsmen, Bedouin herders, and Roman soldiers. Meanwhile, Nagar said that the Qumran skeletons could not be confirmed as Essenes, but their identity could be part of a community of celibate men seems apparent, as noted by Science News.

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