Today was a day to fill the brain. The first reports on Middle Eastern archaeology kicked off at 8:30 a.m. and the last sessions ended at 6:15 p.m. Add two 15-minute coffee breaks and lunch in New Orleans’ French Quarter, and you have a day at the ASOR annual meeting for 2009.
There are typically five presentations to choose from at any one time, and each session features several presentations on various sites and subjects. The Khirbet Qeiyafa dig had two complete sessions dedicated solely to it, with a total of 9 speakers presenting on the excavation results.
So what did they say? In short,
- Khirbet Qeiyafa, near the ancient boundary between Judah and the Philistines, is the only known Israelite/Judahite fortified field city that dates to the time of King David (ca. 1000 B.C., during the Iron Age).
- It only has two known levels of urban occupation: the late 11th/early 10th century B.C. (Iron Age IIa) and the 4th century B.C. (Hellenistic period). There was also a fortified building on the site around the 4th to 6th centuries A.D. (early Byzantine period).
- The Iron Age city shows evidence of urban planning and of a central government in Judah during that period.
- It was inhabited for only a few decades in the Iron Age before being abandoned or destroyed. Current evidence suggests abandonment, possibly because the nearby city of Azekah (only 1 mile to the west) was turned into the dominant border fortress for the region.
- It is most likely to be identified as either the city of Shaaraim (1 Samuel 17), or as a city whose name was not recorded. Because of its strategic importance, and its likely part in the battle that featured David and Goliath, it is believed that the name would probably not have been omitted or forgotten.
- The site was presented as a fortified city that included a civilian population, but some in the audience believe it may have served solely as a military garrison.
- Many scholars have insisted that ancient Israel did not develop as a significant organized State until perhaps the 9th or 8th centuries B.C. This contrasts with the biblical account.
- Khirbet Qeiyafa provides evidence that agrees with the biblical account of Jerusalem existing as the capital of a centralized, powerful state in the early 10th century B.C.
I’ll post a few photos later. The Internet connection in the hotel is slow, but perhaps I’ll catch a faster linkup soon.
Update: In my hurry to get out the door this morning, coupled with a lack of adequate caffeine, I made a couple of basic mistakes in the original post above. (A.D. instead of B.C., et al.) They have now been corrected. What a place to make a 900-year mistake, at the ASOR meeting!
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