Recent Discoveries And Research On The Conquest -- By: Bryant G. Wood

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 04:4 (Autumn 1991)
Article: Recent Discoveries And Research On The Conquest
Author: Bryant G. Wood

Recent Discoveries And Research On The Conquest

Bryant G. Wood

New Findings from Ramesses

One of the most important excavations in recent times is that of Tell el-Dabʿa in the eastern delta of Egypt. The site has been identified as Biblical Ramesses, one of the “store cities” built with Israelite slave labor during the Sojourn (Ex 1:11). In the Hyksos period, ca. 1640–1532 BC, the Hyksos capital of Avaris was located here. The excavation is being carried out by the Austrian Archaeological Institute under the direction of Manfred Bietak. A recent summary article discussed the chronology of the site and the significance of Tell el-Dabʿa to Palestinian archaeology (Bietak 1991).

Thanks to the findings at Tell el-Dabʿa, we now have more evidence that the mysterious Hyksos, or “foreign rulers,” who dominated Egypt for a little over 100 years, originated in Canaan. Bietak believes they were mainly from the southern and coastal regions. The central inland area, on the other hand, seems to have been a kind of federation, with no close ties to the Hyksos. This may explain the tremendous fortification systems found at Middle Bronze Age sites in central Canaan.

Tell el-Dabʿa has produced an abundance of datable material making it possible to assign more accurate dates to the Canaanite culture found there. This has resulted in the lowering of commonly accepted dates for the Middle Bronze Age period by about 100 years.

This has considerable impact on our understanding of Biblical history. At the end of the Middle Bronze Age many cities in Canaan were destroyed. The pat answer has been that the Egyptians destroyed these cities after they drove the Hyksos out of Egypt. The commonly accepted date for the expulsion of the Hyksos is ca. 1530 BC. Since Bietak is advocating lowering the date of the destructions at the end of the MB period to about 1450 BC, those destructions now appear to be unrelated to the expulsion of the Hyksos. If the Egyptians did not destroy these cities, who did?

Bietak admits that our knowledge of this time period in Palestine is incomplete. John Bimson has suggested that it

Eighteenth-century Bc Hyksos palace at Tell el-Dabʿa.

was the Israelites who destroyed many of the sites (Bimson 1978; 1981 [available from ABR]). My own research has shown quite conclusively that it was the Israelites who caused the destruction of Jericho at...

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