However, this cave shows traces of habitation and it is possible that it was used as a hiding place during the first Jewish revolt or at the time of the second Jewish revolt of Bar Kokhba.
Cave 11Q, one of the farthest from Khirbet Qumran, was explored in 1956. Little material was found inside, although cave 11Q would show no traces of violation in antiquity. It is thought that the scroll of the Temple was contained in this cave.
As for the most important topic, that is the dating of the manuscripts, unfortunately we have no written date in the documents so that to advance hypotheses only the following tools remain:
· Archeology of Khirbet Q. and the caves, archaeological analysis can provide information and archaeological stops to identify the period in which the manuscripts were composed;
· Paleographic dating, since the 1950s paleographic analyzes based on the writing style of the documents have been performed to establish the dates of writing of the manuscripts;
· Radiocarbon dating; Radiocarbon dating was performed both on some organic objects found in the caves (linen sheets that wrapped the manuscripts), and directly on the documents themselves which are made up of organic material (papyrus and leather).
Assuming that the documents hidden in the caves belonged or were in some way connected to the inhabitants of the nearby site of Khirbet Qumran we have seen that there are well-founded historical and archaeological reasons to suppose that the caves were abandoned and sealed around 68 AD, the year in which, according to de Vaux, Khirbet Qumran was surely abandoned by the Jews. All the manuscripts would therefore have been written before 68 A.D., a year that would constitute a fairly precise archaeological stop, then preserved in the eleven caves until the twentieth century unless there were any possible intrusions in more ancient times. However, it should be borne in mind that the link between Khirbet Qumran and the caves in the neighboring area is only suggested by two concrete facts:
1) geographical proximity; the inhabitants of Khirbet Qumran could not fail to know that a few hundred meters from their buildings there were caves full of hundreds and hundreds of documents;
2) The discovery in the caves of some jars identical to those found in Khirbet Qumran, intended to contain the manuscripts. Some cylindrical jars were found intact in the caves to contain the manuscripts wrapped in linen cloth. Broken jars and various shards were then found. Surprisingly identical jars have also been found at the ruins of Khirbet Qumran. In the book of Mebarki and Puech (see bibliography) it is argued that the type of jars found in the Qumran caves was found exclusively here and never in other areas of Palestine. This of course creates a very strong link between the manuscripts and Khirbet Qumran. Excavations by de Vaux have also shown that there were plants in Khirbet Q. for processing terracotta and for making jars in large numbers.
In the caves, as we know, in addition to the manuscripts and some jars used for the conservation of documents, traces of dwelling in ancient times have also been found, before and / or during the deposition of the manuscripts. However, as reported by Y. Hirschfeld in his interesting article, it is by no means proven that the jars found in the caves were built at Khirbet Qumran only to protect the documents of the caves and that therefore it was the inhabitants of Khirbet Qumran who wrote and to hide the manuscripts. Jars similar to those found in the caves were used in Khirbet Qumran for other purposes and may simply have been “lent” to hide manuscripts from elsewhere:
Unfortunately there are no other clues that are able to unquestionably link Khirbet Qumran to the documents found in the caves. In fact, the settlement of Khirbet Q. does not seem to be an ancient library or a monastery, contrary to what de Vaux supposed.