A Toilet in the Desert: One among the Many Archaeological Finds at Qumran

Yes, you read that correctly, a toilet is one of the many archaeological finds at the site of Qumran. You may be hot and tired after a day of touring the desert and floating in the Dead Sea, but don’t let that stop you from seeing this site that is the home of some impressive discoveries in the Judean Desert. Below are just a few of the finds. There is much more to see and learn while visiting Qumran.

The Dead Sea Scrolls

If you’ve ever read about or seen reports about the Dead Sea Scrolls, most likely you’ve seen pictures of one of the caves in which the scrolls were discovered. A visit to the site of Qumran will allow you a view of Cave 4. A total of about 900 different scrolls have been discovered in 11 caves near Qumran.

A Toilet


Have you ever wondered what an ancient toilet looked like? Well, you can find out at Qumran! During excavations archeologists discovered in one of the buildings at the site “a terracotta pipe set into a conical, mud-lined pit that was filled with thin layers of coarse, dirty earth (Magness, 105).” Comparison with other ancient toilets in the Mediterranean suggests that this indeed was a toilet!

Lots of Pottery

If you’ve already visited several archaeological sites, you’ve probably seen all kinds of pottery, so you may be asking, “what makes this one different?” Among the pottery found at Qumran are cups, bowls, plates, kraters, cooking pots, jars, jugs, juglets, flasks, lids and oil lamps; over 1,000 were complete vessels.

Animal bones

Were these bones leftovers from meals? Were these animals victims of ritual sacrifice? Are the bones evidence of a sacrificial cult at the site? A visit to the site may help to answer some of these questions.

Ritual Baths (miqva’ot) 

Were the pools found at Qumran for collecting and storing water in the desert or were they used for ritual baths?

A Hoard of Silver Coins

Over 560 coins were found in 3 pots!

A Cemetery

Over 1,100 graves have been discovered here, containing both men and women.


For more information see:




Magness, Jodi. The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002.