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.
Thanks for the picture of both gentlemen. I have had the privilege of working with both Yossi and Israel at Sh’ar Ha’Golan and Megiddo a few years back. I deeply appreciate what I’ve learned about archaeological theory from both. It’s good to see them in the same frame, if not in the same philosophical side of the picture.
I also have a son participating in the dig there this year and I know he is extremely excited about the finds of the past week. I wish you all a continuously good season.
Thank you for this blog. I have been following the issues over whether David and Solomon were as the bible describes ever since reading Finklestien’s books on the subject. This new pottery shard does present a challenge to his theory, and I’d like to see what comes of this.
I came across this website quite by accident. I just happened to be listening to a Web lecture given by Jim Long (The Riddle of the Exodus) when he mentioned Khirbet Qeiyafa and up pops Israel’s Finkelstein’s picture. Though he is one of Israel’s big guns in the field of archeology (with lots of publications) he is referred to as an archeological “minimalist” or those who don’t believe in what the Tanach has to say. In particular, Ir David, the ancient site of David’s Palace unearthed by Eilat Mazar. He wrote a long-winded essay on the topic basically knocking the current archeologists currently working there. I suspect he was never invited to join and hence the sour grapes.
I don’t know that “sour grapes” played a role in his response. He was skeptical of the biblical accounts of David many years before the “Large Stone Structure” was unearthed in Ir David in 2005. I don’t know that any archaeologist, including Eilat Mazar, can be 100% sure the LSS was David’s palace since there are no inscriptions or finds that nail down that identification. From what I have read there is certainly a good case for it, but we’ll have to wait for any surer confirmation.
Khirbet Qeiyafa is, at the moment, possibly the strongest challenge to minimalist theories. It’s evidence of a resource-loaded, border-defending, urban planning central government in Judah 3,000 b.p. (before present) – the exact thing minimalists deny existed. The debate will no doubt rage on for some time. Thank you for your post!
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