What Were the Dead Sea Scrolls and Why Should Anyone Care?

  • January 23, 2023
  • 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
  • Zoom virtual lecture

David Lipovitch, PhD

David Lipovitch has been studying the ancient world since he was a child fascinated by the archaeology and mythology of Egypt, the Aztecs, and countless other cultures of antiquity. As an undergraduate at the University of Toronto – after a brief diversion in physical chemistry  – he found himself enrolled in double majors studying anthropology and the archaeology of the ancient Near East. Thanks to the encouragement of his mentors there, he decided after completing an Honours BA in 1989, to continue his studies and earned an MA (1993) and a PhD (1999) in Hebrew Bible and archaeology from Harvard University.

While working on his various degrees he excavated and surveyed in southern Ontario working with both prehistoric Native Canadian sites and historic Euro-Canadian sites, and at Ashkelon, Israel. His dissertation, Can These Bones Live Again? An Analysis of the Persian Period Non-Candid Mammalian Faunal Remains from Tel Ashkelon, Israel, examined a poorly understood time period at this important site and introduced him to the subfield of zooarchaeology (his current specialty) – the study of animal remains in archaeology. Since then he has continued to work on or with excavations in Ontario, Israel, Jordan, and Turkey (where he is currently the Zooarchaeologist at the University of Toronto’s excavations at Tell Ta’yinat).

Dr. Lipovitch has lectured publicly since the 1990s and has done so in three different countries and three different languages. He is an award-winning educator who has taught everything from kindergarten to graduate school. He continues to be an active researcher in archaeology and is currently a Research Affiliate at the University of Toronto’s Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations and a course instructor in Laurier’s History and Archaeology & Heritage Studies departments. 

What Were the Dead Sea Scrolls and Why Should Anyone Care?

Between the 1940s and the 2020s hundreds of documents preserved by the arid conditions of the  Judean Desert were discovered in the caves near the site of Khirbet Qumran. They appear to have been deposited there by a monastic sect of early Jews called the Essenes during the Hasmonean and Roman Era around the Second and First Centuries BCE. As they are the oldest fragments in Hebrew of the Old Testament they have played a key role in modern biblical scholarship and they have provided insights into the lives of a sect whose beliefs may have played a key role in the development of both early Judaism and early Christianity. 

This event is part of the Winter 2023 Speaker series. 

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