Jim West Gets Mentioned by the BBC, Israel Finkelstein Publishes Some Articles Online

I’m telling you, folks, if you wish to be kept up to speed in the world of archaeology as it relates to the Bible, create a Google alert for yourself on Israel Finkelstein. Today (word coming from Jim West), Israel Finkelstein has published some papers of his online.

The first, on Amarna Shechem, is from 2005, and thus, fairly recent, utilizing the petrographic examination of the Amarna letters done by Goren. It analyzes the rise of the Omrides as interpreted by the rise of an earlier Shechem-area based polity, that of Shechem under Labayu. It was superseded by Finkelstein’s paper on Saul being the “Last Labayu”. The only disagreeable remark I can find in there is the mention of Dor being definitely Israelite in the 8th C BC (on page 183), ignoring the possibility it might have been Phoenician.

The second, on the campaign of Shoshenq I, is outdated (my video is up-to date), describing Shoshenq I as attempting to destroy, rather than encourage, the Masos-Nahas copper network. It is also a useful example of Finkelstein In Transition on his opinions on which stratum at Megiddo corresponds to Shoshenq I’s Megiddo. In this paper, he views “Early IrIIa” Masos II as partially contemporary with “Late Iron I” Megiddo VIA. Finkelstein also presents his “Shoshenq destroyed Saulide Gibeon” hypothesis he more clearly presents in “Last Labayu”.

The third, on “The Archaeology of the Days of Manasseh“, is a Finkelstein classic. He points out the decline of the Judahite population from over 120,000 in c. 705 BC to under 70,000 in c. 605 BC, the utter lack of full recovery in the Shephelah, and the rise in population in the Negev, Hill Country, Benjamin, and Wilderness. He also points out the Arabian trade and Ekron IC as factors in the recovery of Judah under Manasseh. He does not accept there is any good evidence for a Manassite revival of the Shephelah.

In other news, Jim West, biblioblogger extraordinaire, has been mentioned by the BBC.

Mineralogical Study of the Amarna Tablets

Generally, this post will do nothing more than point out the great importance of the work done by Goren, Finkelstein, and Na’aman in their using the type of clay of several Amarna tablets to determine the locations from which they were sent, and show the absolute locations of these locations.

One of the most valuable finds of this work is the discovery of the true location of the Amarna-era capital of the Alashiyan kingdom- either Kalavasos-Ayios Dhimitrios (34°45’3″N, 33°18’10″E) or, more likely, (Kh)Alassa-Paliotaverna (34°45’30″N, 32°55’18″E). Almost equally valuable was the chronicling of the expansion of the Kingdom of Amurru, from a chiefdom on both banks of the Kebir (Syro-Lebanese border) and the mountains east of Tripoli/Ullasa, to a kingdom with its capital at Tell Arde/Ardata, 34°24’30″N, 35°54’53″E, to a monarchy centered at Irqata, encompassing Tell Kazel/Zemar (34°42’31″N, 35°59’10″E) and Tell Asharneh/Tunip (35°17’13″N, 36°23’52″E). If the Egyptians had established stronger bases north of Kumidi (33°37’26″N, 35°49’17″E), their primary Syrian administration center, and founded a major fort at Kadesh/Tell Nebi Mend, 34°33’26″N, 36°31’10″E, the Kingdom of Amurru might have never became what it had.

The capital of king Ba’lu-mehir (EA 257-259), [x-x-i]G-ma-te, has finally been shown to be Jokneam (32°39’52″N, 35° 6’32″E). Ba’lu-UR.SAG’s city has been shown to be Rehov (near Behshean), eliminating Jatt as a candidate for Ginti-Padalla (a disputed city between Labayu of Shechem and Ba’lu-UR.SAG). Ginti-kirmil has been determined to be not at Gath or at Carmel, but at Jatt, revealing what Abdi-Heba was contrasting with “the land of Seir”.

Work such as this should be encouraged and continued. Who knows what other facts might be discovered in the future by petrographical analysis?