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Interview with Yosef Garfinkel on Khirbet Qeiyafa

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#1 Ken Gilmore

Ken Gilmore


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Posted 24 September 2013 - 04:11 AM

The Bible and Interpretation has an interview with Yosef Garfinkel Director of the Khirbet Qeiyafa excavations. His claim that Khirbet Qeiyafa, a large fortified complex which would require a powerful state to build and maintain, dates to the time of King David would undermine the Low Chronology. The interview can be found here - this Q&A gives you a taste of what to expect.

3. How do you answer your detractors when they call this old time Biblical Archaeology?

In the past, sites have been excavated and dated according to Biblical traditions. Thus circular situations have been created. Yadin, for instance, dated the six chamber gates in Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer to King Solomon's time, since the Bible described buildings activities in these cities in his time. Thus, archaeological remains were dated according to the Bible, and then the physical finds matched the text.

We work differently. Dating the city of Khirbet Qeiyafa is based on 10 olive pits, tested in Oxford University. This is an objective method which is not dependent on biblical traditions. The city ethnic identification is based on the data. We clearly have a belt of houses abutting the casemate city-wall and incorporating them with each other. This city planning is known only in Judah. This urban planning was not found in any Canaanite, Philistine or northern Israelite city. So where is the biblical text in all this?

Our initial interpretations are not dependent upon the biblical traditions. Only at a later stage do we use the Bible. So what do we have at hand?

A. We have according to scientific dating a site dated to the time of King David.

B. We have a fortified city with typical Judean urban planning.

C. We do not have pig bones at all, which characterized Philistine sites west of Qeiyafa.

D. We do not have nude female figurines which characterized Canaanites or sites in the northern Kingdom of Israel.

E. We are only one day walk from Jerusalem.

F. We are on the Valley of Elah, just 12 km from Tell es-Safi (Philistine Gath).

G. Khirbet Qeiyafa was heavily fortified.

H. The site was destroyed a short time after its construction, perhaps 30 years later.

I. Many iron and bronze weapons were uncovered in the destroyed city.

According to the biblical text there were many battles in the Valley of Elah between the Philistines and the David, or the Kingdom of Judah. I think that Khirbet Qeiyafa indicates that, indeed, this region was an area of constant conflict between the Kingdom of Judah and the Philistine city state of Gath. Is this "old time Biblical Archaeology"?

We can't ignore the Biblical tradition in this case. It deals with the same time period and the same geographical location. It is on our table and tells us about the era and place we are researching. It's an information source we have to study, analyze, and from which we have to draw conclusions. An archaeologist who excavates a biblical site which is mentioned in the Bible, but ignores the relevant biblical information is like an archaeologist who doesn't collect all the pottery shards or animals bones from his excavation.

Edited by Ken Gilmore, 25 September 2013 - 03:31 AM.

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” - Galileo Galilei

#2 Evangelion



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Posted 24 September 2013 - 08:03 AM

This is truly excellent. His answers are calm, credible, and well reasoned.
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.


#3 Fortigurn



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Posted 24 September 2013 - 05:44 PM

Very good. :)

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