Qumran is located 10 miles south of Jericho by the Dead Sea on perfect desolate area ideal for the Essenes sect, known also as the “Dead Sea Sect” whom lived there. The archeological site was excavated by Roland de Vaux, a Catholic priest in the years of 1953-56 and excavations continue to this day. Qumran is famous and of great importance for the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in nearby mountain caves, and a frequent sightseeing visit during holy land Christian tours in Israel.
The archeological Israel tour site of Qumran is a place that has been inhabited at several times in history. At the lowest level of the dig are remains from buildings and pottery originally from the Iron Age II, as well as a circular cistern from this same period, that was later modified to be incorporated in to a complex aqueduct and reservoir system for water. Many believe it is likely that Qumran was the site mentioned in the Bible as “Ir ha-Melah,” the City of Salt.
Around 130 BCE newer inhabitants of Qumran known as Essenes sect modified the cistern, and added two rectangular cisterns, built several rooms, and installed pottery kilns, and just three decades later added three story buildings, and a complex water reservoir system complete with aqueducts connected to a dam. The last inhabited period of Qumran was from 132 – 135 CE, during the Jewish War the sect and site was overran by Romans, and lay Qumran in ruins, after occupying the site by Roman garrison for approximately 20 years.
During your holy land tour you can explore Qumran and find ruins of water channels to transfer the water from the wadi from the infrequent storms in this area. The sect required vast amounts of daily use of water for their purification rites and ceremonies in dozens of cisterns, mikvot (ritual purity baths), and pools of water. Here also is the Scriptorium, or “writing benches” found in a room with inkwells, suggesting that the second story building was the place where the Dead Sea Scrolls were written and copied. While no scrolls were found in the site, exact pottery jars were found both at Qumran ruins and in the nearby Qumran caves where the scrolls were discovered. The Qumran ruins also include a large dining hall, used for communal eating. There were up to three rows of tables for the sect, and in the next room more then 700 cups, 200 plates, and 100 bowls were discovered. Also in Qumran, archeologist discovered over 1,200 cemeteries, in the nearly all male celibate community.
Christian tour groups to Israel will visit Qumran usually the same day they tour Masada, and a day after they arrive to the Dead Sea resort area for relaxation, swimming and floating, and other optional Dead Sea spa treatments.