chapter  11
16 Pages

WHY SCROLL JARS?

ByJodi Magness

There is perhaps no more distinctive artifact associated with Qumran than the cylindrical jars which reportedly contained the first scrolls discovered in Cave 1 (and which are therefore sometimes called “scroll jars”). According to one account of the initial discovery, when the Bedouins first entered Cave 1, they discovered a row of these jars covered with bowl-shaped lids. Most of the jars were empty, but one contained three scrolls, two of which were wrapped in linen (VanderKam 1994: 3). The cylindrical jars in which the first scrolls discovered in Cave 1 were reportedly stored are virtually unique to Qumran and the nearby caves. In this chapter, I suggest that these jars were designed for the purpose of storing the pure food and drink of the sect and other objects with a high degree of ritual purity (such as scrolls).