Qumran kiln

Qumran pot-shop & kiln. Spring 1997 #2.jpg

One (and possibly two) ceramic kilns were recovered at Khirbet Qumran, Palestine. The mysterious community often associated with the production of the Dead Scrolls (in the centuries leading up to the time of Christ) produced other things as well. A pottery production area is found on the southeastern (and downwind) side of the site. It is tempting to think that the jars used to hold the famous scrolls were thrown and fired here.* In fact, the case has been built that Qumran was not a "scroll factory" at all, but a "ceramic factory." This is not a new idea, but a part of the ongoing debate to unpack these odd ruins. See the views expressed in The Site of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Archaeological Interpretations and Debates (Brill, 2006) or the earlier work The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls (Eerdmans, 2002) by Jodi Magness.

The cylindrical shape of the kiln is visible in this shot, as is the firebox door located at ground level.

*NAA suggests that some of the vessels from Qumran have local clay "fingerprints." Others were made from clay brought down from the Jerusalem area.