After nine years of being unable to excavate Khirbet el-Maqatir because of its location near Palestinian cities in Israel, the Associates of Biblical Research has resumed work on the site under the direction of Bryant Wood. Wood believes that the site may be the city of Ai destroyed by Joshua in the Israelite conquest of the land (Joshua 7-8). A brief report of the first week’s excavations is now online, along with some photos.
Efforts this season are focused on the west, south and east walls, and several structures inside the fortress. On the east, Eugene Merrill (Dallas Theological Seminary) discovered a pavement which may be a section of a ring road which circled the site inside the fortress wall. On the west, Pastor James Luther (Florida) uncovered a 5 meter long section of a one meter wide wall that is part of a substantial structure inside the fortress. Dig director Bryant Wood exposed several walls that were part of a building complex just inside the main gate on the north side of the fortress. One of the guest volunteers working in Dr. Wood’s square found a large section of a pithos rim and neck which can be accurately dated to the 15th century BC, the time of the Conquest.
Wood’s latest article explaining the rationale for identifying Kh. el-Maqatir as Ai is given in an article in Critical Issues in Early Israelite History (Eisenbrauns, 2008), available online in pdf format here.
4 thoughts on “Update from Khirbet el-Maqatir (Ai?) Excavations”
Was this the site that you and this clan of folks thought was the true Ai? I know there was a more popular site that you felt was the wrong size given the population of at the time (12,000 or so).
It's exciting to hear and see that Dr. Wood is able to return to this site. I voluntered at this site in 1998. It was one of the best experiences of my professional teaching experience at Northwest University in Kirkland, WA! I was impressed with Dr. Wood's scholarship and biblical conswervatism!
Jeff – the "scholarly consensus" for the location of biblical Ai is et-Tell, about 1 kilometer (half a mile) east of Kh. el-Maqatir. Because et-Tell was abandoned from 2400-1200 BC, many who believe the biblical account of Joshua's conquest to be historically accurate doubt the scholarly identification of et-Tell. It is one thing to deny a theory and yet another to support one, and Wood has been studying the area for years with the goal of locating a site that matches the biblical description of Ai in Joshua 7-8.
As volunteer at Yad Hashmona, I, Abe de Jong from The Netherlands, joined this year 2009 a few days as " starting Digger" with the group of Bryant Wood!
A very enlighting/blessed lesson in digging in my own heart.
On Google Earth it's easy to measure the distance/total area:
Ai(height:880m) according Dr. Wood, and Ai?/Et-Tell(height:835m) is separated(400m) by a slope height:819m) total about 7000m^2.
The quantity of 12.000 citizens of Ai(bible) may be less according late scientific studies!
Factual prove by escavations combined with biblical historical data honours the writer of the bible our father God!