Qumran Cave Clusters

The Caves of Qumran can be divided into five distinct clusters (see previous map):


Ia. SOUTHWEST SPUR: Caves 4Qa, 4Qb, 5Q and 10Q. The complex is located 80 meters southwest of the buildings of Qumran on a spur of the marl formation separated from the site by a narrow ravine. The Bedouin discovered caves 4Qa and 4Qb simultaneously, with the result that the fragments from the two caves arrived at the museum mixed and indistinguishable according to cave. Thus these adjacent but separate caves were delineated “4Q” by de Vaux with regard to the manuscripts and other items collected by the Bedouin. However, when describing the findings from his own excavations, de Vaux was able to distinguish them as “4Qa” and “4Qb”.

Ib. SOUTHERN SPUR: Caves 7Q, 8Q and 9Q. The complex is located at the southern end of the same marl terrace, 90 meters directly south of the building complex of Qumran and connected to it by the southern enclosure. The three caves, whose roofs had collapsed, are accessible only from within the confines of the enclosure wall.

II. CAVE CLUSTER OF THE NORTHERN CLIFFS: Caves 3Q and 11Q; Survey Caves GQ1–11; Caves A and B; PQ13, PQ24. The northern cliffs lie between the wadi that divides the cliffs two kilometers to the north of Qumran and the Rijm al-Asbah “the rock of the thumb,” about one kilometer further north.

III. CAVE CLUSTER OF THE CENTRAL CLIFFS: Caves 1Q, 2Q and 6Q; Survey Caves GQ12– 21. This cluster stretches for one-half kilometer along the cliffs, about one and one-half kilometers to the north of Qumran.

IV. CAVE CLUSTER OF QUMRAN’S WADI AND SOUTHERN CLIFFS: Survey Caves 6Q, GQ22–32. The caves of the southern cliffs lie along a one-half kilometer stretch south of the Wadi Qumran.

V. CAVE CLUSTER OF THE EIN FESHKHA CLIFFS: Survey Caves GQ33–40. This stretch of cliffs begins 2.75 kilometers south of Qumran and extends southward for 2.5 kilometers, ending at Ras Feshkha, with the spring of Ein Feshkha at the center.

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