Courtesy of the Authors

Excavators inspect the remains of Building B, located 40 feet east of the easternmost gravesite (foreground) on Qumran cemetery’s middle finger. Like virtually all the other ancient burials at Qumran, the grave in the foreground is approximately 6 feet deep and oriented north-south. The Qumran cemetery does include 54 graves oriented east-west, but they are all 200-year-old Bedouin burials—the only exception is the ancient burial at Building B. Why would this burial, at an anomalous depth of 3.5 feet, have been oriented differently from others of the same era? The excavators suggest it marks the grave of someone important, perhaps a key figure referred to in the Dead Sea Scrolls.