On a New Damascus Fragment and/or Scroll?

At the outset of my work on the Damascus Document, I realised that all images of the fragments would need to be gathered together and indexed. This realisation came from my editorial work on Serekh ha-Yaḥad.1 During the first year of doctoral studies, I worked with Sarianna Metso to analyse all the images of Serekh ha-Yaḥad. When we began our work, we would sometimes take 10-15 minutes to track down an image, so that we could check a reading or examine some material issue about the fragment.2 Since this time was better used to discuss the issues at hand, I decided I would make some indices to quickly locate the images of the fragments. The indices linked the Palestine Archaeological Museum (PAM) images to the new Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library (LLDSSDL) images, along with Sarianna Metso’s, Alexander & Vermes’, and Milik’s fragment identifications. This way, I could quickly access the PAM images for any fragment, no matter if we were working through the DJD comments or Metso’s earlier comments in Textual Development of the Qumran Community Rule.

I drew on my dissertation research—where I clearly outline the need to implement best editorial practices3—when I started to work through all the the Damascus material. I indexed all the images of Damascus fragments. In addition to the known Damascus fragments, I wanted to search through any unidentified fragments, in all the following lists:

  • Tov, Emanuel. Revised Lists of the Texts from the Judaean Desert. Leiden: Brill, 2010.
  • Reed, S. A. The Dead Sea Scrolls Catalogue: Documents, Photographs and Museum Inventory Numbers. Society of Biblical Literature, Resources for Biblical Study 32. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1994.
  • Tov, Emanuel, ed. Companion Volume to the Dead Sea Scrolls Microfiche Edition. 2nd Revised. Leiden: E.J. Brill under the Auspices of the Israel Antiquities Authorities, 1995.

I also decided I work through DJD 33, where a great deal of smaller unidentified fragments were published. When I searched through DJD 33, I found a “new” fragment of Damascus. I spoke about this fragment in my lecture at Yale, earlier this year. Here is the fragment:

New Damascus Fragment
Textual Identification of Fragment as Coincident Text to CD A 7:6–13

The above screen shots are from a journal article, that I hope to publish sometime this year on the fragment and some issues of compositional development apropos the Cairo Genizah medieval codices A and B. When I resume the series 2D Material Reconstruction of the Dead Sea Scrolls, I will look at how this fragment presents some interesting problems about how to create a Schriftenmetric when a full “abecedary” is not available. I am also using my neural networking scripts (using Fastai) to look for other fragments in the same scribal hand. It could very well be an additional manuscript of the Damascus Covenant. Happy New Years to All!

  1. Sarianna Metso, The Community Rule: A Critical Edition with Translation, ed. Rodney A. Werline, Early Judaism and Its Literature 51 (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2019). I express my deepest thanks to Prof. Metso for sending me a copy of this volume.
  2. DJD frag. 2a is a perfect example of this.
  3. I explain this further in my dissertation, From Ink Traces to Ideology: On the Material, Text, and Compositional Development of Serekh ha-Yaḥad with New Critical Editions. The methodology I develop in my dissertation has been influential to my work on the Damascus Document in the project Scripta Qumranica Electronica. I will address this in a future series of posts on ethics of digital humanities and collaboration.

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