Scholarly account of an important recent archaeological find in Israel.
Garfinkel (Archaeology/Hebrew Univ.; Dance at the Dawn of Agriculture, 2003, etc.) takes the lead among a trio of authors involved with the project to excavate Khirbet Qeiyafa, a site in the Elah Valley of Israel. The site is set squarely in the area believed to have once constituted the Kingdom of Judah, and it has been dated to the late 11th/early 10th century B.C.E., making it contemporaneous to the life of King David. Khirbet Qeiyafa has yielded a number of fascinating and important finds, including an inscription that scholars have concluded is the oldest written example of the Hebrew language. Beyond historically meaningful discoveries such as these, however, the authors assert that Khirbet Qeiyafa has a great deal to teach regarding the life and times of ancient Judah and even about the historicity of biblical accounts regarding the kingdoms of Judah and Israel. The authors especially take issue with the “minimalist” school, which theorizes that the Hebrew Bible histories were written in the Persian or Hellenistic periods and largely fabricate or re-create a mythical history of the Israelites. Garfinkel and his colleagues argue that Khirbet Qeiyafa stands as evidence to the contrary and that the “excavations have thus provided archaeological evidence corroborating historical memories from the time of King David and have prompted renewed debate among scholars concerning the quantity and quality of historical information preserved in the Bible.” The authors go so far as to assert that Khirbet Qeiyafa is in fact the biblical city known as Shaaraim, which is mentioned three times in the scriptural account. This is a worthwhile work on a number of counts. Though sometimes a bit technical, the book is a fascinating glimpse into the methods, rigors, and rewards of archaeology. On another level, the authors add to a larger conversation about the historicity of the Bible while describing a find of true significance.
An engaging glimpse into the ancient past.