Qumran Pottery

By the Editors of the Madain Project

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This article attempts to enlist the pottery artefacts found during excavations at the site of Qumran.


The range of pottery, glass and high quantity of coins found at Qumran point to trade connections in the area, and provide evidence that Qumran may not have been in a vacuum in the Graeco-Roman period.

List of the Pottery Items

circa 100 BCE

This deep bowl (height 4.9cm (1 15/16 in.), diameter 26 cm (10 1/4 in.)) has a flat base, expertly turned on a lathe. Several concentric circles are incised in its base, and the rim of the bowl is rounded with acacia tortilis prevalent in the southern wadis of Israel/Palestine.

circa 100 BCE

This elongated barrel-shaped jar (Height 37.25 cm (14 1/2 in.), diameter 18.7 cm (7 1/4 in.)) has a ring base, a ribbed body, a very short wide neck, and two loop handles. The vessel was probably used to store provisions.

circa 100 BCE

Herodian Lamp (Pottery with fiber wick): This type of lamp was found in strata associated with Herod's reign (37-4 BCE). A similar lamp was uncovered in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, in strata dating to the destruction of the Second Temple (70 CE), thus raising questions as to the date of the lamp. Characteristic features of this lamp type are a circular wheel-made body, a flat unmarked base, and a large central filling hole. The spatulate nozzle was hand-built separately and later attached to the body. Traces of a palm-fiber wick were found in the lamp's nozzle.

circa 100 BCE

Plates: Plates, bowls, and goblets were found in one of the rooms at Qumran, with dozens of vessels piled one on top of the other. This room probably served as a "crockery" (storage area) near the assembly room, which may have functioned as the dining room. These fifteen, wheel-made plates are shallow, with a ring base and upright rim. The firing is metallic. Hundreds of plates were recovered, most of them complete, some with traces of soot.

circa 100 BCE

Stacked Goblets: During the excavation of the Qumran ruin, these V-shaped drinking goblets were found stacked in what had been a storeroom. The quality of their construction and craftsmanship leads some contemporary archaeologists to argue that the site was a Roman villa, because the presence of vessels of this quality would not be in keeping with the austerity of an ascetic community.

KhQ 1587 a-h: Height 26.5 cm (10 7/16 in.), diameter 16 cm (6 1/4 in.)

circa 100 BCE

This globular jug has a ribbed body and a long, tapering neck ending in a splayed rim. A single-loop handle extends from the rim to the upper part of the body. (Height 19.5 cm (7 5/8 in.), diameter 14 cm (5 1/2 in.) hQ 1192).

circa 100 BCE

This flattened pot has a ribbed shoulder and a short, wide neck. The firing is metallic. Height 15 cm (5 7/8 in.), diameter 24 cm (9 3/8 in.) KhQ 1565.

circa 100 BCE

Globular-shaped design, the surface of the body, from shoulder to base, is ribbed. Two ribbed handles span the vessel from the rim to the upper part of the shoulder. The firing is metallic. Traces of soot are discernable over the lower part. Height 20.5 cm (8 in.), diameter 26 cm (10 1/4 in.) KhQ 2506

circa 100 BCE

Hemispherical in shape, these bowls have a ring base and an inverted rim. Bowl A: Height 8.5 cm (3 3/8 in.), diameter 12.4 cm (4 7/8 in.) Bowl B: Height 9.2 cm (3 5/8 in.), diameter 13.5 cm (5 5/16 in.) KhQ 1601/a-b

circa 100 BCE

Because of the exceptional conditions inside the caves of the Dead Sea region, several baskets and mats of plaited weave survived intact, allowing the reconstruction of weaving or plaiting techniques. The Qumran plaited basket is made of a single braid ("zefira" in Mishnaic terms) composed of several elements (qala`ot) and spiraling from base to rim. The coiled braid was not sewn together; instead, successive courses were joined around cords as the weaving progressed. In a complete basket the cords are not visible, but they form horizontal ridges and a ribbed texture. Each basket had two arched handles made of palm-fiber rope attached to the rims by passing reinforcing cords through the plaited body of the basket.

See Also

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