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Release: Immediate

Archaeologist to speak about excavating and reading Dead Sea Scrolls

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa School of Religion will continue its series of lectures on the Dead Sea Scrolls with two presentations by Jodi Magness, associate professor of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology at Tufts University Sunday, April 5 and Monday, April 6.

Magness's lecture is this year's Sonia Sands Memorial Lecture. This lectureship was made possible by generous gifts to the School of Religion by friends of Sands who wished to honor her many years of friendship and counsel to Jewish students at the UI. Her presentations, both titled "Reading the Ruins: An Archeologist Interprets Qumran," focuses on the archaeology of Qumran, which is adjacent to the caves where the scroll fragments that are known collectively as the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.

Magness's slide-illustrated lecture explains the connection between the Qumran site and the scrolls from the caves. The Dead Sea Scrolls comprise the remains of more than 800 different scrolls, which include Biblical books and related literature, and literature describing the beliefs and practices of the Jewish sect that deposited the scrolls in the caves. Many scholars identify this sect with the ancient Essenes. At least some of the members of this group lived at the site of Qumran.

Magness's presentation is offered in conjunction with a year-long photographic exhibit in the UI School of Religion celebrating the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. UI religion professor George Nickelsburg created the exhibit, "Discoveries by the Dead Sea: The Scrolls Fifty Years Later," which is on display through May 1998 on the third floor of Gilmore Hall. In the collection of nearly 50 photos, visitors can view the site of the discovery, learn about the people who discovered the scrolls, and begin to understand the beliefs, practices, frustrations, and hopes of the scrolls' authors.

The Sunday, April 5 lecture begins at 2 p.m. in Room 106 Gilmore Hall. The Monday,

April 6 lecture begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Shambaugh Auditorium in the Main Library. Both lectures are free and open to the public.

For further information, contact the UI School of Religion at (319) 335-2164.