College of Arts and Sciences


Master of Arts in History - Thesis (MA)


David L Snead


Archaeology, Dead Sea, DeVaux, Israel, Price, Qumran


Cultural History | History | History of Religion | Other History


Khirbet Qumran is an archaeological site located on a plateau in Qumran National Park near the Dead Sea in Israel. Although it is a site rich in archaeological history and has been visited by tourists since the early nineteenth century, it only recently became a household name in the mid-twentieth century with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the caves surrounding the plateau. While the Dead Sea Scrolls are generally the area of focus for most scholars, much archaeology has been done in Qumran focusing on the community and its ruins as well. This thesis focuses on the archaeology of Qumran, examining the buildings and material remains as opposed to the Dead Sea Scrolls, which is generally the more popular area of scholarship. There is also a chapter detailing the history of archaeology as a whole in order to familiarize the reader with the archaeological process. Qumran’s archaeology is topic of some controversy among scholars, as some think that it was not inhabited by the communal Essenes, as generally believed, but another different Jewish sect. Others think it was a Herodian or Roman country villa or fortress. Some of the most well known scholars that have worked on the Qumran plateau disagree about who lived there and what purpose the buildings served, though most can agree that it was some kind of Jewish sectarian community. Using field notes, published and unpublished, the works of ancient scholars, and many other sources, it is clear to see that the Qumran plateau was once inhabited by a Jewish sectarian settlement, possibly the Essenes. Many archaeological discoveries on the plateau confirm this. Hopefully in the future, DNA analysis will also further confirm the connection between the community that lived on the plateau, and the Dead Sea Scrolls found in the surrounding caves.