David Harris

Stone burial mounds still cover the bones of Qumran’s unexcavated dead. More than 1,100 graves have been found west of the site, a mysteriously large number for any theory to explain. East of the site, a smaller cemetery contains the remains of a few women and children. Partisans of the fortress and villa theories have to explain why so many hundreds of people were buried here, while those who believe the site was home to the Essenes—described in ancient sources as a celibate religious sect—have the further problem of explaining the presence of women and children.