A Dead Sea Scroll scholar at the University of Manchester in England has identified an early precursor to the traditional Jewish lunar calendar. In a 2,000-year-old fragmentary scroll known to scholars as 4Q318, recent Manchester Ph.D. Helen Jacobus discovered an early Jewish zodiac calendar that uses the same month names still used by some Jews today. According to Jacobus, the calendar can still be used to find the moon’s position in the zodiac on a given date in the Jewish calendar. The end of the scroll also preserves a “thunder omen”-predictions about what will happen if thunder is heard when the moon is in a particular sign of the zodiac.
The recently published results of Jacobus’s research earned the 2011 Sean W. Dever Memorial prize, announced in the July/August 2011 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.*
*See Strata, “Study of Qumran Zodiac Earns Dever Memorial Prize,” BAR, July/August 2011.