Zev Radovan

A prominent crack down the center of the stairs leading into one of Qumran’s mikva’ot (number 49 on the planp. 31–>) provides graphic evidence of an earthquake in 31 B.C.E. Or does it? Yizhar Hirschfeld argues that the crack resulted from damage after Qumran was abandoned in 68 C.E. Other scholars counter that piles of broken dishes that fell suddenly from their shelves and a cracked cistern are clear evidence of an earlier earthquake. The broken pottery, which dates to the first century C.E., was covered with debris, which was built over (presumably because it was easier to cover up the mess than to clean it up), and the damaged cistern was filled in because it was unusable. The earthquake’s fault line (marked as a dotted line on the plan) zig-zagged through the eastern half of the settlement.