Khirbet el-Maqatir

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

Aerial from east

One mile 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.

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 c. A.D. that may help in the identification of this site as Ai.  The earliest reports by Edward Robinson in 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

Let the Evidence Speak (Associates for Biblical Research)  Dr Bryant Wood gives his point of view in the debate.

Kh. El-Maqatir 2000 Dig Report (BiblePlaces.com)  The excavation report from the 2000 season by Dr. Bryant Wood.

Archaeology Confirms the Biblical Account (Watchman Bible Study Group)  This page includes multiple articles written by ABR staff, a few of which pertain to the excavations at Kh. el-Maqatir.

Ancient Days: Khirbet Nisya – Dr. Livingston’s Search for Bethel and Ai  A website by the founder of Associates for Biblical Research which includes articles concerning the locations of Bethel and Ai and the author’s belief that Ai should be identified with Khirbet Nisya.

Locating Biblical Bethel (ABR)  More Dr. Livingston’s gives detailed information about Bethel, and includes a map and photos.