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[John the Baptist] grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness till the day of his manifestation to Israel.  - Luke 1:80

Qumran was the center of the Essene community, a Jewish sect in the time of John the Baptist.  The Essenes estabished a monastic settlement some 25 miles southeast of Jerusalem, in the Judaen desert near the Dead Sea. They lived a devout and ascetic life.  They believed and lived in preparation for a great apocalyptic battle between the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness.  Their numerous writings were well preserved in clay jars hidden in cliff-side caves for some 2000 years.   In 1947 a Bedouin boy accidently discovered them  when he threw a rock into one of the caves and heard the crash of pottery.  John the Baptist, who lived in the Judaen desert, may have had some contact with this community.
Also see | Dead Sea | Masada | Ein Gedi | Ein Feshka | Wadi Qelt |

view of Judean dessert and mountains from top of Masada

copy of Essene scroll discovered at Qumran

one of the ritual baths at Qumran

looking south toward the Judean desert with  Dead Sea on left

some of the jars containing scross which were discovered in caves 
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(c) 2001 Don Schwager