Wooden Artifacts

Wooden artifacts are rare finds in the material culture of the ancient Near East, and few specimens from the Roman period have survived. Because of unusually arid climatic conditions at Qumran, however, many wooden objects were retrieved including bowls, boxes, mirror frames, and combs. Their fine state of preservation facilitates the study of ancient woodworking techniques.


Wood, First century B.C.E.-first century C.E.

52.3, 52.3a
Comb A: length 6 cm (2 3/8 in.)
        width 9.5 cm (3 3/4 in.)
Comb B: length 6.3 cm (2 1/2 in.)
        width 8 cm (3 1/8 in.)
Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority (85, 86)
Similar to most ancient combs, these combs are two-sided. One side has closely-spaced teeth for straightening the hair, and the other side provides even more teeth for delousing the scalp. Both combs are fashioned from boxwood.


Wood First century B.C.E.

Height 4.9 cm (1 15/16 in.)
Diameter 26 cm (10 1/4 in.)
Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority (87)
This deep bowl has a flat base, expertly turned on a lathe. Several concentric circles are incised in its base, and the rim of the bowl is rounded. Most wooden objects found in the Qumran area are of "acacia tortilis," a tree prevalent in the southern wadis "valleys" of Israel.