the Herodian stage of construction at Qumran, large wings, primarily in the
west and southeast, were added on to the central fortified structure from the
Hasmonean period. Various installations were discovered in these wings, such
as ovens and soaking pools, which characterize the perfume industry. At the
same time, an estate manor was built at Ein Feshkha, south of Qumran, and next
to it an installation that was also probably used in the production of perfume
essences. Similar installations were found on the royal estate of the Hasmonean
and Herodian winter palaces in Jericho, as well as at Ein Gedi and Ein Boqeq
along the western shore of the Dead Sea.
The demand for perfumes in Rome was great, and Herod understood the economic value of this industry. To this end, the king established a new and sophisticated port in Caesarea, and prepared two roadways from the Dead Sea area to Caesarea-one through Jerusalem and the other through Sebaste. These perfume roads gave Herod control, both in the means of production and in the mode of marketing.
Thus, we should view the sites of Qumran and Ein Feshkha (which seem to have a common physical connection) in their context as important stations on the perfume route from the Dead Sea to Caesarea during the Herodian period. The owner of these sites, who probably lived in Jerusalem, was a member of the ruling class in Judaea, either a relative or close friend of the king himself, who enjoyed the prosperity that the kingdom of Judaea offered him during the reign of Herod the Great.