Dead Sea Scrolls scholar Hanan Eshel dies at 52

World famous researcher passes away after a long battle with cancer.

April 8, 2010 22:19
1 minute read.
Hanan Eshel

Hanan Eshel311. (photo credit: Bar Ilan University)

Prof. Hanan Eshel, a world famous researcher of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bar Kochba Revolt, passed away after a long battle with cancer early Thursday morning. He was 52.

A former head and current faculty member of Bar-Ilan University’s Martin Szusz Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology, Eshel wrote several books and over 200 articles. He was an expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls as well as the Qumran settlement, the Second Temple period and the Bar Kochba Revolt of 132-136 CE.

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Eshel also served as director of the university’s Jeselsohn Epigraphic Center of Jewish History since the center’s founding more than a decade ago.

A native of Jerusalem, Eshel studied archeology and Jewish history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and did his post-doctoral work at Harvard University. He later taught at Harvard, Oxford and Michigan Universities while on sabbatical from Bar-Ilan.

He began his archeological excavations in the caves at Katef Yericho, where he found letters from the Second Temple period. He later ran the excavations at Yatir. In recent years, he had led a number of excavations at Qumran, near the Dead Sea.

Over the last couple of years, Eshel published four books. He wrote three Carta field guides on the history of Qumran, Masada, and Ein Gedi and another book entitled The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Hasmonean State.

Eshel was a member of Kehilat Shira Hadasha in
Jerusalem and attended Shabbat services there regularly. He was buried Thursday at the Maaleh Hahamisha cemetery.

At the funeral, his eulogizers emphasized that he never left anyone until he had helped them achieve their goals. His wife, Esther, talked about working together with her husband and how he had prepared them for his passing.

David Amir, a friend and colleague, said he bridged the gap between the archeological work and the scholars who worked on the Qumran Scrolls, who weren’t always on the same page.

He is survived by his wife and two children, Avshalom and Michal.

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