has long been a call in scholarly literature for a detailed osteological analysis
of the human remains from the Qumran cemetery. Rorher-Ertl and colleagues were
the first to respond to this appeal with a comprehensive account of their research
on the segment of Qumran remains housed in Germany. Their work demonstrated
how skeletal remains offer a unique perspective on ancient life, providing a
composite record of humans as biological entities within a cultural and environmental
setting. Physical anthropologists thus 'look for life in patterns of death,'
synthesizing biology and culture into a framework for viewing the past.
To date, 39 of DeVaux's original 43 skeletons have been found. This paper will provide an overview of two additional segments of the extant collection, housed in Paris and Jerusalem. A summary of their reemergence, provenience, and dating will be provided, as will an overview of the demographic, anthropometric, paleopathological and genetic analyses conducted to date. These results will be placed within a geographic context, comparing the Qumran collection to published regional and temporal counterparts.
Finally, individual characteristics will be discussed from a forensic perspective. While the sample size of exhumed individuals in the French collection is far too small to make generalizations about the larger community at Qumran, interesting life histories can be constructed for some of the people in the DeVaux collection. Data were collected with an eye towards creating a bio-cultural model of life at Qumran, with the hope that continued comparison to regional correlates and perhaps future excavations at the site will permit the eventual formation of a more holistic perspective.