Thursday, March 26, 2015
Roland Guérin de Vaux
Father Roland Guérin de Vaux OP (1903 –1971) was a French Dominican priest who led the Catholic team that initially worked on the Dead Sea Scrolls.
De Vaux' team excavated the ancient site of Khirbet Qumran (1951–1956) as well as several caves near Qumran northwest of the Dead Sea. The excavations were led by Ibrahim El-Assouli, caretaker of the Palestine Archaeological Museum, or what came to be known as the Rockefeller Museum in East Jerusalem.
De Vaux had worked on several excavations when Gerald Lankester Harding, the director of the Jordanian Antiquities Department, contacted him in 1947 to investigate a cave near the Dead Sea where some scrolls had been found. The cave later became known in Qumran nomenclature as Cave 1, the first cave to yield texts which became known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.
As de Vaux worked at Qumran and its vicinity more scrolls were found and these discoveries brought a small group of young scholars of Hebrew to work on them. These scholars, some of whom worked on their allotted scrolls for decades, included Józef Milik, John Marco Allegro and John Strugnell.
De Vaux chose not to publish a definitive archaeological report for his work at Qumran despite worldwide interest, though he left behind him copious notes, which have been synthesized into a single volume and published in 2003.
In their work The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception, Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh heavily criticized de Vaux, describing him as "ruthless, narrow-minded, bigoted and fiercely vindictive," anti-semitic and a fascist sympathizer. The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception has, in turn, been denounced by scholars as consisting largely of a "pattern of errors and misinformed statements".