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The Qumran Roundel and the mrḫyt: A Comparative Approach

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image of Dead Sea Discoveries

Abstract A small saucer-shaped object with engraved concentric rings and radial marks, found at Qumran, is usually called a sundial. Several interpretations, some of them very complicated, have been suggested, none of them convincing. The most recent and most extensive interpretation, presented by Paul Tavardon O.C.S.O., receives special attention in this article. The Egyptian mrḫyt, consisting of a horizontal piece with at one end an upright block serving as a little gnomon, is also usually called a sundial. In this article the two instruments are examined in comparison with each other, which results in a rather simple interpretation. Current interpretations have studied both instruments as if they were handled in isolation and by one person. In the new interpretation offered here it is argued that, if studied under the assumption that two or more identical copies were used at the same time by different persons, it can be shown that they could have been used as instruments for making appointments when the shadow of the little gnomon had reached an agreed-upon mark.

Affiliations: 1: Amsterdam The Netherlands


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