The Search For Joshua’s Ai At Khirbet el-Maqatir, 2011 -- By: Gary A. Byers

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 25:2 (Spring 2012)
Article: The Search For Joshua’s Ai At Khirbet el-Maqatir, 2011
Author: Gary A. Byers


The Search For Joshua’s Ai At Khirbet el-Maqatir, 2011

Gary Byers

The ninth season of the Associates for Biblical Research’s (ABR) excavation at Khirbet el-Maqatir was held in May and June, 2011. All nine seasons have been sponsored by ABR and under the direction of Dr. Bryant Wood. Located 9 mi north of Jerusalem in Israel’s West Bank, we call this dig “The Search for Joshua’s Ai at Khirbet el-Maqatir.”

While a “tell” (Arabic; although sometimes “tall,” as in neighboring Jordan) is an artificial mound consisting of layers of human occupation, a “khirbet” (Arabic) is a low ruin. Our site, covering about 10 acres, is a series of low ruin piles sitting directly upon bedrock.

Last year’s focus was three different time periods in three different parts of the site:

1) The fourth–sixth century AD Byzantine monastery on the rise to the northwest

2) The second century BC–second century AD Hellenistic/ Roman settlement on the low rise to the northeast

3) Our major focus and the reason for choosing Khirbet el- Maqatir in the first place, the 15th century BC fortress of Ai from Joshua’s time in the saddle between these other two sets of ruins

To our disappointment, three squares which we hoped would identify remains of city walls or interior structures from Joshua’s time went to bedrock without finding any architecture of significance. But in the other nine squares, we found interesting material related to our other two focus periods.

Unfortunately, for the first time since we began excavating at Khirbet el-Maqatir, Dr. Bryant Wood was not in the field with us. He was home recuperating from a stem cell transplant procedure and chemotherapy, but received information from square supervisor reports and analysis of the objects and pottery we found. We praise God that his health has greatly improved, and we anticipate he will return to the field for the 2012 season.

Michael Luddeni

Excavated eastern wall of the basilica-style church of the Khirbet el-Maqatir monastery.

Michael Luddeni

The Khirbet el-Maqatir monastery church, looking south. The central apse is at the bottom of the photo, with the southern apse to the south. Note also the spring of an arch at the west side of the central apse.

This writer was with Dr. Wood when he first stepped on the site in 1994, and has participated with him in every dig season since. Consequen...

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