The Qumran Cemetery Reassessed

Rachel Hachlili

in The Oxford Handbook of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780199207237
Published online January 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

 The Qumran Cemetery Reassessed

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  • Judaism and Jewish Studies
  • Religion in the Ancient World


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The proximity of the cemeteries to Khirbet Qumran is strong evidence that they belong together and that the Qumran cemetery was a central burial place for the inhabitants who lived there. The graves in these cemeteries reveal a well-organized, carefully dug, and thoughtfully arranged system; the burials are usually solitary, one individual interred in each tomb, and are evidently not family tombs. The Qumran graves are shaft tombs and almost all of the excavated tombs contained individual burials. The form of the graves and the burial customs, as well as the proximity to the site, should be considered as essential factors concerning the identification of the Qumran community in the Second Temple period. The finds at the cemetery reinforce the thesis that the Qumran community was a specific religious group, a separate Jewish sect, who fashioned their own divergent practices as well as practising some typical Jewish customs.

Keywords: Qumran burial; shaft tombs; Essene settlement; Qumran cemetery; Second Temple; Jewish sect

Article.  11961 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Judaism and Jewish Studies ; Religion in the Ancient World

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