The CSM Article on Qeiyafa

The article first describes excavation life at Qeiyafa. Hat tip to Luke Chandler. For some reason, the article accidentally leads us ask whether a coin “from the era of Alexander the Great” is from the “Mid-1st century BC.”. Not a good sign. The article uncritically reports that “David felled Goliath with a sling”. Again, not a good sign. Relevant excerpts of Israel Finkelstein’s words are artfully placed. The author of the article also bizarrely considers the author of Psalm 119 to be referring to the Bible when he speaks of God’s word. The article plays on names: Israel Finkelstein’s life story is described as paralleling that of the State of Israel, while Finkelstein speaks of David Ben-Gurion as being influenced by King David. The author gets the wild idea that Shiloh was “the ancient capital of Israel for more than 300 years before the Hebrew people built a temple in Jerusalem and enshrined it as the heart of their nation and religion”. Shiloh, of course, was neither “the” capital of Israel (it was a capital of a chiefdom; see Miller’s Chieftains of the Highland Clans, a book I am perpetually reading, but am never getting around to reviewing), nor Israelite for over 300 years before Solomon’s temple was supposedly built. Also, the “Hebrew people” simply did not have a “nation and religion” in the pre-Exilic era. Shiloh was founded in the 12th century BC (search the blog archives using the Google Custom Search feature on the sidebar). The article avoids error in regards to the history of United Monarchy-related 1990s academia. The article, as is to be expected, flops on the exact dating the Merenptah stele (“about 1205 BC” gives them partial credit). I did not know Amihai Mazar is retired before I read this article; I should have known on the day I started this blog. The reason I didn’t know is because Mazar is still writing articles. The article calls Bill Dever a “biblical archaeologist”, even though he famously rejected this title. The article mentions Indiana Jones, thus, automatically degrading its quality. The article further adds evidence to my conclusion that Garfinkel’s main objective in sensationalizing the Qeiyafa finds is achieving publicity. The author of the article neglects the fact the southern gate is a reconstruction. The article also uncritically reports Garfinkel’s claim that “Shaaraim” translates to “two gates” (it is merely the plural of “gates”). The article also uncritically claims that the Qeiyafa inscription is an “inscription containing Hebrew words such as judge and king” (which is possible, but uncertain). The article also claims, without evidence, that one of the Qeiyafa shrines reflects “a new type of architecture”.

The article quotes Amihai Mazar as stating “one cannot avoid asking whether scholars who are trying to deconstruct the traditional ‘conservative bias’ are not biased themselves by their own historical concepts”. However, over the years I have seen Israel Finkelstein to be perhaps the most objective person in all Jordano-Palestinian archaeology, anticipating trends that have or are surely bound to spread throughout the scholarly community well before they do spread throughout the scholarly community. For some reason, the article ends with the words “It’s adding substance to the biblical story.”. It would have been better to have a more objective ending.

Overall, I grade the article three stars for lacking a consistent and engaging theme, conclusion, and thesis. The article fails to extrapolate trends or anticipate new developments. Its persistent focus on Qeiyafa prevents it from being a terrible article and prevents it from being a comprehensive article with a wide scope.

My Qeiyafa video from last year (now with closed captions, which one can get by clicking on CC!).

My Reconstruction of the Qeiyafa ‘Palace-Fort’

Based on Luke Chandler’s photo. We’ll see how the architectural plans compare to my reconstruction.
I am, of course, reminded by the Lachish Lateral Access Podium palace-fort, which had three stages of construction. The Qeiyafa palace-fort probably will, when further uncovered, be revealed as a Lateral Access Podium structure. The suggestion in the comments at the Chandler post that the Qeiyafa palace-fort is a Bit-Hilani is probably incorrect; these are characterized by their prominent entrances. The plan of the building reminds me of the Omride Megiddo Palace 6000 and the Hazor and Bethsaida LAP structures. In LAP structures, the first floor tended to be filled with storerooms while the residence was located on the second floor. I expect the rooms in the Qeiyafa palace-fort to be interpreted by the excavators as storage facilities, as they sure look like they are from over here.

A Short Non-Biblical History of Palestine From the Mid-11th C BC to the Early 10th C BC

Or, the Chronology page of this blog in narrative form, Part 2

Part 2: The Filling of the Power Vaccum

I shall start with the Middle Iron I, where I left off. Canaan had been free of Egyptian taxation for nearly a century. Trade between villages, hamlets, and cities was on the rise. The Philistines had firmly established themselves from the Wadi el-Arish to the Yarkon. Ekron was surpassing Gath in size. Philistine Bichrome ware was traded from Tel Masos even as far as the little Middle Iron I village of Hazor. The sedentary population of the central hill country had risen from roughly twelve thousand in the Late Bronze Age to roughly thirty thousand.

Economic development led to political development. Villages governed by few became cities governed by one. Megiddo rose from a small pit settlement to a decent walled Iron Age I city-state, as did Beth-Shean. Chinnereth became a major city-state of the Galilee, certainly dominating the fish, and probably the copper supplies of the region. It was, however, almost without a settlement base outside its city walls, Galilee’s hamlets being primarily located in the mountains around Har Meron. The overall trend in the eleventh century was a gradual urbanization, though an increasing rural population in the Hill Country prevented any repeat of the conditions of the Early Bronze III. Broadly speaking, Iron Age I city-states could only control a couple hundred square miles, often less.

This state of affairs, however, could not be kept for more than roughly a century and a half. It depended on two conditions that could not be sustained- a state of economic depression in the rest of the Mediterranean, most importantly, in Phoenicia, and a failure of states with territories larger than 600 square miles in area to form. Both of these conditions would be clearly shown unsustainable by the early ninth century.

The first condition to be shown unsustainable was the second. In the central hill country, a few towns of some importance had emerged by the mid-11th century BC. The first was Shiloh, a town some three acres in size in the approximate center of the central group of Iron I settlements in the central hill country. The town was evidently a thriving regional center with public pillared buildings, possibly used for storage. This town was destroyed c. 1030 BC, as shown by C-14 dating. Shechem Stratum IX was probably destroyed at around the same time, although it might have been destroyed earlier. Continue reading “A Short Non-Biblical History of Palestine From the Mid-11th C BC to the Early 10th C BC”

A.R. Millard Solid On Epigraphy

Though there are some ambiguities here (“the Babylonians invented writing”) and a dollop of Albrightian maximalism (I am amazed at Millard’s cognitive dissonance), Millard is solid on epigraphy in this video. I agree with most of his points, including those on Qeiyafa. I have discussed Kuntillet ‘Ajrud, its probable status as a caravansary, and its early-mid 8th C BC date in the below video.

New Paper on Cypriot Pottery of Khirbet Qeiyafa by Member of Tel Dor Team

It’s called Cypriot Barrel Juglets at Khirbet Qeiyafa and other Sites in the Levant: Cultural Aspects and Chronological Implications. Apparently, two early or mid- Cypro-Geometric I barrel juglets have been found in the Late Iron I layer at Qeiyafa. Ayelet Gilboa, the member of the Tel Dor team, attempts to explain the reasons for the widespread export of such juglets to Cisjordan in the Late Iron I and the chronological implications of these juglets being found at the Late Iron I layer at Qeiyafa.

Identifying Qeiyafa

In my first post on Qeiyafa, I considered the identification of Qeiyafa with Shaaraim to be suspect, but still possible. In my video on Qeiyafa, I considered the identification of Qeiyafa with Shaaraim to be almost impossible. At present, I see only two good identifications for Qeiyafa-Ephes Dammim (“boundary of blood”), which, due to the meaning of the name and the nature of Iron I Khirbet Qeiyafa, I consider unlikely, and Gob, which I consider by far the most likely original name of Qeiyafa, largely due to the fact that the location fits, all the other candidates are unlikely, and the name is sufficiently ambiguous in meaning.

Sources for Video on Qeiyafa

Picture of Garfinkel.

MSNBC article on Qeiyafa.

Image of 1945 photo of Qeiyafa.

2008 Qeiyafa ASOR Powerpoint Presentation (radiocarbon dates also from here).

Lily Singer-Avitz’s paper.

Iron IIa bowls.

Philistine Bichrome pottery.

Source for claim MPDW was imported.

Shiloh pottery.

Source for ostracon images.

Source for ostracon location.

Chris Rollston’s analysis of the language of the Qeiyafa inscription.

Sources for claim Beth-Shemesh was Canaanite (while houses with some resemblances to the four-room plan were found at Iron I Beth-Shemesh, no four-room house of the highland variety were found there).

Source for S. gate images.

Source for distorted photo of Qeiyafa.

National Geographic article on Qeiyafa.

Finkelstein Has A New Paper on Qeiyafa

This one is largely a continuation of his older ideas, but does propose some new ones, including that the excavators’ Hellenistic Wall is Ottoman (though Finkelstein agrees the Late Iron I wall is Late Iron I) and that the site’s Period/Stratum III was primarily settled in the Late Persian period (the excavators now accept the stratum’s foundation in the Persian period). He also associates the Qeiyafa Late Iron I wall architectural tradition and some other material features of the site with highland ones, and makes a reasonable case that Qeiyafa might have been built by the Benjaminite Saulide Polity (an interpretation I considered and rejected, even beginning to write a post on why this idea is unlikely), suggesting the battle in 1 Sam 17 preserves genuine memory of Saulide expansion as far as the Elah valley. He then suggests the (very unlikely, considering the lack of RSHB ware) mention of Qeiyafa in Shoshenq I’s list, toponym 11 or 12.

UPDATE (April 10, 2013): I now support Finkelstein’s interpretation of Qeiyafa as Gibeonite-built.