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The Virtual Qumran

The History Channel documentary on the Lost Years of Jesus mentioned a possibility that the concept of baptism came to Jesus when he and John the Baptist lived among the Essenes  and that later the Essenes moved to Qumran in the West Bank from Jerusalem due to the fear of Romans. The documentary also suggested a theory that Jesus was a revolutionary fighting the Romans and those activities have been left out of the Bible since it would be difficult to circulate such a document while being governed by the Romans due to which there is no mention of what he did between the ages of 12 and 30.

We know that the Essenes consisting of about 75 men, moved to Qumran,  a desolate desert site, sometime between 130 and 100 B.C to escape Roman persecution. It is believed that they lived in a monastery, whose ruins are present even now, and wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls, the only surviving texts of the Hebrew Bible written before 100 AD.

For years archaeologists have argued about the ruins which indicate an assortment of buildings and spaces over a 20,000 square foot area. Now a virtual 3-D reconstruction of the site has revealed that the building was a fortress once occupied by warriors called called the Hasmoneans  and others before the Essenes converted into a monastery. The original structure was built around 160 BCE and consisted of a two-story building and four-story tower.

 In 183 BCE, in India, the last Mauryan emperor Brhadratha  was assassinated by his general Pusyamitra Sunga. By that time the empire built by Chanakya, Chandragupta Maurya and Asoka were disintegrating with Afghanistan, Gandhara, Kashmir, Punjab and Malwa all breaking away. While the Roman-Essenes fights were going on in the neighborhood of Jerusalem, the Sunga dynasty, established by Pusyamitra was ruling a large portion of India from Vidisha. (Pusyamitra’s son Agnimitra is one of the principal characters in Kalidasa’s Mālavikāgnimitram).

Around 70 CE, the monastery was destroyed by the Romans but  now you can take a virtual tour of the monastery/fortress through the following YouTube video.

See Also: Virtual Qumran Blog, Virtual Qumran Visualization Project

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