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By Jodi Magness / Eerdmans / 2002
The Dead Sea Scrolls are among the most interesting and important archaeological discoveries ever made, and the excavation of the Qumran community itself has provided invaluable information about Judaism and the Jewish world in the last centuries B.C.E. Like the Dead Sea Scrolls, however, the Qumran site continues to be the object of intense scholarly debate. In a book meant to introduce general readers to this fascinating area of study, veteran archaeologist Jodi Magness here provides an overview of the archaeology of Qumran and presents an exciting new interpretation of this ancient community based on information found in the Dead Sea Scrolls and other contemporary documents. Magness's work offers a number of fresh conclusions concerning life at Qumran
She agrees that Qumran was a sectarian settlement but rejects other unconventional views, including the view that Qumran was a villa rustica or manor house. By carefully analyzing the published information on Qumran, she refines the site's chronology, reinterprets the purpose of some of its rooms, and reexamines the archaeological evidence for the presence of women and children in the settlement. Numerous photos and diagrams give readers a firsthand look at the site. Written with an expert's insight yet with a journalist's spunk, this engaging book is sure to reinvigorate discussion of this monumental archaeological find.
In the half century since Roland de Vaux excavated Qumran, the most important contributions to its archaeology have undoubtedly been made by Jodi Magness. Her erudite, painstaking, and levelheaded research has solved many of its problems. This book of hers is at once a first-rate scholarly work and a delightful read.
Jodi Magness is the Kenan Distinguished Professor for Teaching Excellence in Early Judaism in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In addition to Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls, her research interests include ancient pottery, ancient synagogues, and the Roman army in the East, and she has published and lectured extensively on these subjects. She has participated in twenty different excavations in Israel and Greece, including serving as codirector of the 1995 excavations in the Roman siege works at Masada.