Qumran (kōmränˈ) [key], ancient village on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, in what is now the Israeli-occupied West Bank. It is famous for its caves, in some of which the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Archaeological work at Qumran has yielded a profile of its history. In Israelite times it was the site of a small settlement and was probably called the city of Salt (Joshua 15.62). Between c.130 B.C. and c.110 B.C. Qumran was rebuilt. It was destroyed (31 B.C.) by an earthquake and was rebuilt c.4 B.C. The Romans destroyed it (A.D. 68) and made use of the site as a military fortress.
The first archaeologists to excavate the later Jewish ruins at Qumran identified them with the ascetic community that produced the Dead Sea Scroll known as the Manual of Discipline, but recent interpretations by other archaeologists have suggested the inhabitants of the ruins lived in relative luxury and that the scrolls may have come from Jerusalem. Most recently, some archaelogists have proposed that Qumran was a pottery manufacturing center before its destruction by the Romans. At present, scholars do not agree on whether any link can be established between the ruins at Qumran and the scrolls found in the nearby caves.
See C. T. Frisch, The Qumran Community (1956, repr. 1972); J. van der Ploeg, The Excavations at Qumran (1958).
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