It is common for archaeologists and scholars to visit excavation sites during the summer dig season. In the 2009 season Khirbet Qeiyafa’s visits included archaeologists from across Israel, BAR editor Hershel Shanks and a high-level delegation from Harvard University.
These kinds of visits have continued during the 2010 season, but we had two notable visits yesterday, July 20th. A delegation from the Israeli Tourism Ministry came to assess our site for possible development as a future tourist attraction. I do not know the specific results of their visit, but one staff member told me it seemed to go well. Current tour groups typically drive along the valley floor, stop at the Elah Brook to collect “five smooth stones” as souvenirs, then continue to some other site. Perhaps future visitors will enjoy a Visitor Center, a short film about the city’s biblical history, a restaurant, and/or other development on the hilltop at Khirbet Qeiyafa.
Our other visit yesterday was Israel Finkelstein with a group of fellow scholars. His visit is worthy of mention since he is a leading critic of the Qeiyafa scholars’ conclusions.
Finkelstein is a professor, archaeologist, and a highly successful author who has concluded that David and Solomon did not reign over any centralized kingdom, living a much humbler existence than the Bible describes. He writes that the power and wealth of the United Monarchy described in the Bible was transplanted by Bible authors from later kings such as Ahab, Manasseh, et al. Professor Yosef Garfinkel, director of the Qeiyafa excavations, has concluded the opposite. He states that Khirbet Qeiyafa shows strong evidence of a centralized, powerful monarchy during the time of David, thus affirming the biblical text.