Khirbet el-Maqatir

View from airplane of a hilly region covered in modern buildings and trees, with a relatively bare hill in the middle

Kh. el-Maqatir is upper left; et-Tell is right center

Aerial from east

One mile (1.6 km) due west of traditional Ai (et-Tell) is Kh. el-Maqatir, an alternate location for Ai. Its location fits the approximate area one would expect to find the city that Joshua destroyed in the Conquest. Furthermore, the absence of any evidence of inhabitation at et-Tell should compel the honest historian to look elsewhere for Ai.

Aerial from north

If Kh. el-Maqatir were to prove to be Ai archaeologically, its location fits the biblical record well. The deep Wadi Sheban to the west provides a perfect location for the ambush forces of the Israelites to hide. Joshua’s command post was on the hill just east (left) of the modern road and he fled east away from the wadi allowing the ambush force to attack from behind.

A green hill with scattered trees, bushes, rocks, and a few modern buildings, under a cloudy sky

View from north

Separated from the north by a deep valley, Khirbet el-Maqatir is here seen from the eyes of Joshua at his camp before attacking the city. To date, much evidence has been found indicating that Kh. el-Maqatir is the Ai of Joshua’s day, including the city fortifications, gate, evidence of battle and destruction by fire.

Byzantine Church

Byzantine monks built a large monastery on the site in the 4th century AD that may help in the identification of this site as Ai. The earliest reports by Edward Robinson (1838) show that the local peoples thought Kh. el-Maqatir was Ai and it is possible that this church preserved the memory of this identification.

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Related Websites

See BiblePlaces.com’s page on et-Tell. See also our pages on Joshua.

Biblical Sites: The Lost City of Ai…Found (Biblical Archaeology Report) A 2019 article walking through the evidence that points to Khirbet el-Maqatir as Ai, including a reconstruction of the city and a nice reference list.

The Khirbet el-Maqatir Excavations (Associates for Biblical Research) Covering archaeology and biblical connections, this article includes a 3-minute video from the director of ABR regarding Ai, and helpful basic information about the site.

2014 Excavations at Kh. el-Maqatir (Associates for Biblical Research) An article detailing the archaeological excavations up to 2014.

Excavations at Kh. el-Maqatir 1995–2000, 2009–2013: A Border Fortress in the Highlands of Canaan and a Proposed New Location for the Ai of Joshua 7–8 (PDF paper) Photos, a map, and many recreation sketches relating to Khirbet el-Maqatir by Dr. Bryant Wood, leader of excavations at the site.

Biblical City of Ai Located (Patterns of Evidence) Includes a map that shows both this site and et-Tell, along with an evaluation of biblical and archaeological evidence.

Getting Archaeology Right at Ai (Answers in Genesis) Gives seven specific reasons to believe Khirbet el-Maqatir is the biblical site of Ai.

The Search for Ai: 11 Bible Keys (bible.ca) An article that is very convinced Kh. el-Maqatir is the correct site; includes a rough map, and several graphs and photos.