Synthèse des observations faites en fouillant les tombes des nécropoles de Khirbet Qumrân et des environs. The Khirbet Qumran Cemeteries a Synthesis of the Archaeological Data
Description:softcover, 114 pp. (16x23,5cm), 21 figs., folded map
Condition: very good
Robert Donceel, Synthèse des observations faites en fouillant les tombes des nécropoles de Khirbet Qumrân et des environs. The Khirbet Qumran Cemeteries a Synthesis of the Archaeological Data, The Qumran Chronicle 10, The Enigma Press, Cracow 2002
Resumé en englais, 7-10
Les tombes du site de Khirbet Qumrân; présentation d'ensamble, 13-15
The Khirbet Qumran site tombs; a general presentation
Aspects des tombes en surface, 16-19
Outer appearance ot tombs
Orientation of tombs
Puits funéraire et fosse, 23-24
Funerary shafts and pits
Le "loculus", 25-26
La "couverture", 27-31
Lateral loculus and pit covers
Les inhumés: position de la tete et du corps, 32-34
Position of the head and the body
Les inhumés: sexe, 35-43
Sex of corpses
Les inhumés: observations diverses (âge, déformation, coloration ...), 44-53
Various observations concerning skeletons (age, deformation, staining ...)
Vetments et mobilier léger dans les tombes?, 54-58
Clothing and minor items in the tombs?
A propos de briques, 59-64
Céramique et autres objets découverts en fouillant les tombes, 65-69
Pottery and other objects discovered during tombs excavations
Analyses en vue d'établir la chronologie de la nécropole, 70-72
C-14 analyses and the chronology of the necropolis
Observations topographiques, 73-77
Des tombes a 'Ain Feshkha, 78-83
'Ain Feshkha tombs
A propos de la "Collectio G. Kurth", 89-97
Concerning the "Collectio G. Kurth"
A propos de la fouille des tombes 1 et 2, 99-102
Concerning tombs 1 and 2 at Khirbet Qumran
A propos de la localisation des tombes fouillées par S. Steckoll et des "cimetiere N et S", 103-107
Concerning the location of the Steckoll tombs. The "N and S cemeteries"
A propos des tombes de a 'Ain Feshkha, 109-114
Concerning the tombs from 'Ain Feshkha
This study examines all available data on the Khirbet Qumran tomb excavations. The information was collected and analysed mainly during the author's three years' assignment to the École Biblique et Archéologique Française de Jérusalem, the main institution involved in the Franco-Jordanian excavations of the Khirbet Qumran site (1951-1958).
The study includes all ground level photographs taken by the Palestine Archaeological Museum services, by Father Roland de Vaux and by visitors to the site, and a number of aerial photographs, both vertical and oblique. All publications are taken into account, as well as the author's field observations made between 1987 and 1990. It also covers the original manuscript logbooks, kept day by day by Father de Vaux and his team, which were typed up once the dig was closed. Until now, only this typescript, many parts of it reworked and reinterpreted by de Vaux, has been published (in an incomplete version). The typescript did not include information on the tombs, through the data were there in the handwritten logbooks. Other documents, kept at the École Biblique, mostly unpublished plans, drawings and Father R. de Vaux's correspondence, have also been used.
The author examined the tombs of the main necropolis as well as those of the so-called annex cemeteries and those of 'Ain Feshkha, ignored untill now.
This report is particularly timely as multiple finds have been occuring in various sites of the southernmost part of the Dead Sea shore. There are evidently related and throw new light on the cemeteries. They also raise fundamental questions concerning the significance of Khirbet Qumran.
The description of a typical tomb in the central block of the necropolis as given by R. de Vaux in his 1959 "Schweich Lectures", is still valid. It doen not apply to all the tombs, as R. de Vaux knew only too well when he identified the variety of methods of burial encountered among the tombs found in the main area of the cemetery. There are differences in surface appearance, orientation and depth, and in the stratigraphy and features of the funerary pit and of its deep lateral loculus-grave. Several deposits, more than de Vaux implies, are marked at ground level by a circle or an oval of boulders. Received knowledge as to body orientation, and the ritual and even religious implications that have been deduced from it, need to be fundamentally revised. Bodies are deposited in the lateral loculus-grave, when present, in various ways; they are not in the same position, nor are the eyes always turned to the north, even in the main necropolis.
The present author provides a comprehensive review of the coffin burial, together with coffin-wood analysis results.
Particular attention has been paid to the "topping off" and closure of lateral loculi and of pits. Construction materials were frequently reused for them. During their excavation, a number of mudbricks were found, of which some were measured. They provide data worth comparing with what we know from the presence of these materials in the Khirbet Qumran buildings.
Special attention has been paid to the excavations of a small number of tombs by Salomon Steckoll, just before the 1967 Israeli-Arab war. Though the published data on these activities are incomplete, observations made at time, and the results of analyses ordered from Israeli laboratories cannot be ignored. For example the remains of a palmleaf basket which Steckoll's team saw and photographed can now be compared to finds in caves in the ancient Judean area and in Masada. The study also reviews their findings regarding the presence of cinders, charcoal and palmdate pips in the tomb, characterized, as de Vaux already observed, by their particularly poor funerary array. A complete catalogue of fragments and artefacts found in the tombs - generally in the fill of the funerary shaft - is drawn up and commented upon.
Concerning the bones, the author has taken into account the results of the analyses which identified remarkable traces of alizarin on a number of skeletons. This observations leads to the hypothesis that during their growth (that is their childhood, spent perhaps on the site itself) a number of those buried ate the same kinds of food which included madder. Black marks observed on the surface of some bones pose a more complex problem as to their origin; the lighting of pyres during funerary ceremonies, as proposed by S. Steckoll, can be excluded. Other data studied here concern bone malformations and traumatims observed on some skeletons, which may be related to a professional activity.
Gender determination of the corpses is particularly important, as de Vaux used it to identify the human group using these cemeteries. However, his findings are at variance with conclusions reached, firstly, by prof. H. Vallois, director of the Musée de l'Homme in Paris as set out in a report sent to de Vaux in 1952 (part of which is published here), secondly, by a member of the contemporary Jericho mission, prof. G. Kurth, and thirdly, by scientists working with Mr Steckoll some fifteen years later.
The identification by H. Vallois of double burials with two distinct skeletons in a number of tombs, which was not recognized by de Vaux, continues to pose another serious problem.
As to the chronology of the tombs, both the available evidence and related hypotheses are described in the study, though no fimr conclusion can be reached. For instance, the age range offered by the (recalibrated) tests done by K. Kigoshi to determine the residual Carbon 14 is too wide and imprecise to be useful. Problems concerning the relations between the cemeteries and the building of the Khirbet Qumran through the different phases of occupation which de Vaux proposed remain unsolved.
Important questions have arisen as to the site's chronology, from which R. de Vaux hoped to gather data on the evolution of the local community's way of life. All available information has been used here to construct the outlines of a historical topography of the cemeteries and to characterise individual sectors: the central necropolis, the eastern promontory extensions and what de Vaux called the North and South cemeteries. The fact that S. Steckoll did not provide details on the location of the tombs he excavated proved to be a major handicap for this part of the work. The author attempted to identify these tombs by a tedious process involving the examination and comparison of series of dated aerials photographs where all visible traces and changes between one date and the next were compared. The analysis was complicated by the fact that the photographs revealed confusing surface disturbances probably caused by Beduins and by recent digs by israeli teams for which no information is available.
This study also presents data regarding the excavations, late in the 1956 season, of three tombs in the ruins of 'Ain Feshkha, which remained unknown to scientific investigators. This is equally the case with other tombs which were noted between 'Ain Feshkha and Khirbet Qumran - and even inside the ruins of the last site - by the original team.
The reader will find three additional chapters (Annexes 1,2 and 3). The first presents an extract of the original logbook, concerning tombs 1 and 2. The second examines, in the light of information gathered from the École Biblique archives, some of the conclusions reached by Prof. O. Rührer-Ertl and his team on the subject of the bone material from the Khirbet Qumran necropolis which was transferred to Germany by Dr. G. Kurth. The third concentrates on the localisation of the tombs excavated by S. Steckoll and the North and South cemeteries.