Israel Antiquities Authority, Jerusalem

NOT THE FINEST CHINA. Excavators at Qumran found 210 simple, wheel-made, pottery plates (including those found here), 708 crude bowls, 75 beakers, 38 dishes and 21 small jars. The abundance of dishes provides clear evidence of large group meals. According to the scroll known as the Manual of Discipline: “All are to dine together, worship together and take counsel together…When they set the table for a meal or prepare wine to drink, the priest is first to put forth his hand to invoke a blessing on the first portion of the bread or wine.”