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Making Soap As The Qumranites Did

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Chapter Summary

At Jan Gunneweg's request, the main research goal of this chapter is to figure out whether it would have been possible for people living in ancient Qumran to make soap. In order to tackle this problem help was recruited from the TU Delft . For making soap, one needs water, oil or animal fat, lye and heat. It has been proven that the Essenes had access to fire, water, olive oil and animal fat. Lye can be obtained in the form of wood ash lye. While the soap experiments were prepared and performed, Joris Dik was busy performing tests on the Whortleweed and date palm ashes used in making the soap. He performed X-ray diffraction analysis on the samples to determine the chemical composition of the ashes. It is proved that it was possible to make soap in ancient Qumran, but there is still more work to be done.

Keywords: date palm ashes; lye; Qumran; soap manufacture; TU Delft



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