Toilet

            De Vaux identified a toilet in a large room at the northeastern end of the main building at Qumran. What remains is a clay pipe set into a mud-lined pit; it may have had a wooden box seat built over the top (no seat has survived). The room was damaged by the earthquake that rocked the settlement in 31 B.C.E. and apparently not used after that.

            More recently, a team of researchers identified a second latrine site, to the northwest of the Qumran building complex and behind a bluff, thus shielded from sight of the settlement. Soil samples taken from the site yielded ancient evidence of three different human intestinal parasites, a find unmatched at other locations outside the building complex. Scrolls scholar James Tabor originally suggested investigating this location, noting instructions in two of the Dead Sea Scrolls (the War Scroll and the Temple Scroll) which require latrines to be located at a significant distance “north-west of the city,” and also to be “not visible from the city.” Josephus also describes similar unusual toilet practices among the religiously strict sect known as the Essenes. Toilet Practices in Ancient Jewish Sources” Perhaps this second location served the needs of the community following 31 B.C.E.