Linking Qumran scientific archaeology with the Dead Sea scrolls

Since Christmas Eve 1973, Gunneweg has worked in the domain of archaeometry at the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University (HU) of Jerusalem under and with Iz. Perlman–member of the Manhattan project–who founded the neutron activation (INAA) laboratory at HU after having invented the way to quantify the chemical fingerprint of earthy matter.

In 1997, after many published research studies performed on pottery of Mycenaean, Cypriote, Nabataean, Edomite, Philistine and Hellenistic-Roman cultures, Gunneweg decided that the time was ripe to apply INAA to the Qumran  habitation site in order to learn with whom these persons had been in contact. After the first positive results that were published by Gunneweg and Balla in the 2003 volume, co-edited by Gunneweg, it was decided to enlarge the Qumran research on a broad basis into an application of manifold  analytical techniques concerning DNA, dating, textile and dyes as well as parchment and ink of Judean Desert manuscripts.

Gunneweg represented Israel in the European Community in two COST Actions (G8 and D42) through which he got a collaborative program underway dealing with the Qumran project by scientific means.

He organized three international scientific Qumran congresses & workshops, two at HU at Givat Ram and one as a fellow of Netherlands Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), and the Lorentz Center Physics Institute of Leiden University, that were published in 2003, 2006 and 2010, repectively, see

These research topics, consisting of 85 papers on Qumran alone, encompass pottery provenience, radiocarbon dating of parchment and textiles, thermoluminescence dating of pottery, synchrotron radiation of textiles, dyes, parchment and ink, DNA of parchment and animal bones as well as entomology and parasitology in general.

At a second stage, Gunneweg hopes to get a strict scientific collaboration with the Orion Institute at HU that will tackle the exegesis, historical and Jewish literature (Mishna, Talmud and Gemara) combining the exegetical studies with newly acquired scientific information obtained by material sciences.

On Christmas Eve 2010, exactly 37 years after Gunneweg’s debut at the HU, he has lanced the trans-disciplinary research center regarding Qumran entitled:

Join us in this endeavor.

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