Ai - Et-Tell

Aerial from north

The site of et-Tell is a prominent ruin that is usually identified as biblical Ai.  Archaeological excavations though have shown that et-Tell was inhabited from 3000-2400 BC and again after 1200 BC, but not during the time of Joshua’s Conquest (1400 BC).  Resorting to a “late date” theory of the Conquest does not solve the problem.

Aerial from east

Et-Tell is at the right center of the picture.  The barren hill just below the top left is another suggested site of the city of Ai that Joshua destroyed (Khirbet el-Maqatir).  Bethel is usually equated with Beitin (top right), but may better be located in modern el-Bireh (top left).  Excavations to date to not give a conclusive answer.

Early Bronze Temple

The city at et-Tell was very large (27 acres) and prominent in the Early Bronze period (3000-2300 BC).  The summit of the tell is dominated by a large broad-house type building which is identified either as a temple or a palace.  Four large stone pillar bases were found which supported the roof.

Samaria and the Center

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Related Websites

See BiblePlaces.com’s page on Khirbet el-Maqatir.

Ai (Walking in Their Sandals)  Gives easy-to-read information on the location, biblical significance, etc.  Features links to photographs and on-line scripture references.

Et Tell (dabar.org)  Features good pictures of the site.

Ai (History & Archaeology) (Olive Tree Studies)  Limited pictures and map of et-Tell.

Was Ai a ruin at the time of the Conquest (Stichting Bijbel, Geschiedenis en Archeologie)  A lengthy summary of the Livingston/Rainey dialogue, focusing largely on the location of Bethel, which in turn affects the location of Ai.

Biblical and Archaeological Data on Ai Reappraised (dabar.org)  An extensive paper examining both the biblical and archaeological evidence on Ai, by W.W. Winter.

Locating Biblical Ai Correctly (Ancient Days)  An exhaustive article by Dr. Livingston explaining how to identify Ai properly.

The Archaeology of Ai (Mysteries of the Bible)  Describes the archaeological dilemmas simplistically, although from a conservative perspective.

Is there evidence of the conquest at Ai? (BiblicalChronologist.org)  Presents one way to get around the problem (shifting chronology 1000 years); not a good answer.

Archaeology and Biblical Accuracy (The Skeptical Review)  How the evidence of et-Tell proves the Bible false.