Last week we saw that in the 1930s the most eminent archaeologist of
the day Professor Garstang (who is still extremely well regarded by
archaeologists and especially Egyptologists) saw the archaeology of
Jericho as confirming the Biblical account of its destruction.
His findings however caused a number of difficulties for
Egyptologists. If the conquest took place during the XVIIIth dynasty of
Egypt, where was the evidence of building in the Delta by the Children
of Israel during this era. Further the date of the Exodus was still
preferred to be in the XIXth dynasty and Garstang's results just did not
The problem continued to baffle the experts until the 1950s when the
site was re-examined by Dame Katherine Kenyon under the joint
sponsorship of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem, The
American School of Oriental Research, also in Jerusalem, the Palestine
Exploration Fund, the British Academy and the Royal Ontario Museum.
Her analysis of the site caused her to completely re-assess Professor
Garstang's findings. She concluded that the double wall of his last
(fourth) City could not be dated to 1400BC in the Middle Bronze Age but
rather to the Early Bronze Age (EBIII) which she dated as terminating
around 2100BC, a difference of some 700 years.
She concluded that it just could not possibly be connected to the
invasion of Joshua. Further she found that in her view Jericho was not
even occupied for at least 150 years before 1400BC. She claimed:-
"that almost all traces of the Late Bronze Age town of the time of
Joshua had been destroyed by erosion." (Archaeology in the Holy Land
She claimed that the town had been destroyed by fire and earthquake,
but in c. 1580BC at the end of the MBII period. She stated that a
convenient date for the end of the Middle Bronze Age is the rise of the
XVIIIth dynasty in Egypt in 1567 BC (the accepted conventional
chronology) when Egypt drove back the Asiatics and began to recover her
control over Syria.
The destruction therefore of the walls which she found were later
than the latest of Garstang's last town, was caused by the Egyptians
following the expelled Hyksos into Palestine. But Jericho is in a very
strange location for such an Egyptian invasion. Yes, it guards the
entrance of Palestine from Moab, but it is not on any main North - South
route. It is very unlikely indeed that an Egyptian invader would bother
with the city of Jericho.
"At Jericho, the evidence for the destruction is even more
dramatic. All the Middle Bronze Age buildings were violently destroyed
by fire. The stumps of the walls are buried in the debris collapsed from
the upper stories and the faces of these stumps and the floors of the
rooms are strongly scorched by fire. This destruction covers the whole
area about 52 meters by 22 meters." (Archaeology in the Holy Land p.
"The stratigraphical evidence suggests in itself that there was a
gap in occupation at Jericho. This is confirmed by a gap in the
occupation of tombs in the cemeteries. Burials cease in all the tombs in
the northern cemetery at the end of the Middle Bronze Age. There is a
similar break in those in the western cemetery. But in the latter area,
five were found to contain deposits belonging to the Late Bronze Age."
(Archaeology in the Holy Land p. 182)
These she dates around 1375-1300BC which is still before the time she
would date Joshua.
"The evidence from the 1952-8 excavations at Jericho indicate that
there was a Late Bronze Age (LB) town there in the 14th century which
might have been attacked by Joshua, BUT NOTHING SURVIVES TO
ILLUSTRATE THE BIBLICAL ACCOUNT. (my emphasis). It also suggests
that if this destruction followed by 600 years of abandonment was the
work of the Israelite tribes under Joshua, it is not likely to have been
later than c. 1300BC which is difficult to reconcile with a flight from
Egypt c. 1260 BC." (Archaeology in the Holy Land p. 182).
In one fell swoop she proves the Biblical account of Joshua to be a
myth, discounts both the accepted XVIIIth and XIXth dynasty theories for
the origin of the Exodus, finds no evidence for the occupation of the
King of Moab and nothing from the time of Ahab. Garstang's meticulous
work is all for naught.
Let us try to sum up exactly what she did find. She discovered that
at the end of the EBIII there was a wall described so dramatically by
Garstang as the one destroyed by fire and earthquake.
"Newcomers who were presumably the authors of the destruction
settled in considerable numbers in the area BUT THEY DID NOT BUILD
FOR THEMSELVES A WALLED TOWN." (my emphasis) "In the
intermediate Early Bronze-Middle Bronze period, the burial practice is
essentially that of single burial, though occasionally there are two
bodies. As a result there are an enormous numbers of tombs of this
period. All energy and constructive ability seems to have been directed
towards habitation for the dead instead of the living."
She found another major destruction of the site by fire at the end of
the Middle Bronze period.
"The MBII town was at an early stage defended by a free standing
wall......... after five successive building stages this type of defense
was succeeded by one in which the important element was an artificial
bank; at Jericho this again had three stages." (Archaeology in the
Holy Land p. 164)
After this was destroyed there is just some limited evidence of
occupation during the Late Bronze Age and after that NOTHING. For those
who had read the early history of Jericho in the Bible and were
sophisticated archaeologists and Egyptologists, the three stories just
did not fit one another.
Let us therefore, as an experiment try and resolve the situation by
using a simple technique. Using only the words of Garstang and Kenyon,
the words of the Biblical account and the accepted history of Egypt but
LEAVING OUT THE ABSOLUTE DATES WHICH ARE SOLELY BASED ON EGYPTIAN
CHRONOLOGY, does the story fit?
There are two possible positions for the conquest of Joshua; either
the wall which Garstang suggested but which Kenyon stated was EBIII, or
another wall which Kenyon discovered from a later age, but which she
claimed was still too early at the end of MBII.
The problem with this second wall is that nothing much came after it
and we need, for the Biblical account to fit, at least two periods of
If Garstang's wall is the wall of Joshua, Kenyan's wall is the final
wall of a series which started with the gradual occupation by the
Benjaminites, their expulsion by the King of Moab, the re-occupation by
the Benjaminites and then the final burning by the other tribes of
The Hyksos (sic) remains are those of the inhabitants living there
BEFORE the Exodus PRIOR to their moving into Egypt. The last Egyptian
tombs therefore must be those of the Egyptians living in Canaan just
after the time of Hiel, who were probably instrumental in giving advice
on the protection of the Northern Kingdom from invasion by Moab and of
course the power of Judah in the South.
John J. Bimson has written extensively on the timing of the Exodus
(Redating the Exodus and Conquest: Sheffield 1978 and in the S.I.S.
Review) and has come to a different conclusion as did Rohl ( Pharaohs
and Kings). They place the destruction by Joshua at the end of MBII.
Bimson presents as evidence the fact that:
1) The City was burnt
2) That multiple burials were present were present "very late in the
history of the Middle Bronze Age" which he links to the plague the
Israelites experienced just prior to their invasion of Jericho.
3) That some tombs contained well preserved bodies due possibly to
the release of natural gas containing methane and carbon monoxide which
was caused possibly by an earthquake.
This proposal whilst tempting ( but which was soundly condemned by
Baruch Halpern in a critique in the Biblical Archaeological
Review....just after which he reviewed my chronology without finding any
such problems) on the surface suffers from a number of problems.
1) Of course the occupation by Eglon of Moab has to be ignored.
2) The destruction by fire of all the cities of the Benjaminites has
to be ignored.
3) He has, when comparing other destructions at the end of MBII
throughout the land of Palestine, to continually switch from the
hypothesis that it was an Israelite destruction to that of a Thuthmose
For example Lachish was destroyed by fire at the end of MBII, but the
Biblical account precludes such an event. Thuthmose III is then
introduced as the candidate. In some way both the Exodus and the
invasion of Thuthmose III seemed to have occurred around the same time,
a very strange hypothesis indeed.
There can be no doubt that the MBII destructions in many Palestine
towns on a route of an Egyptian invasion were caused by Thuthmose III.
Those destructions which took place at about this time and not on the
invasion route (like Jericho) must have been by another agency and we
have a very likely candidate for Jericho.
The evidence is clear. Garstang was correct in his identification of
the wall Joshua attacked and Kenyon was correct in dating this event to
be the end of EBIII. They were of course both wrong in their ABSOLUTE
dating which was based on an erroneous Egyptian chronology. But then
that is the solution to ALL the anomalies and problems found extensively
on most sites in the Near East.
Next week we will review the latest work on Jericho and sum up the
evidence that Jericho confirms in all its aspects the Biblical Account.
JERICHO-TELL ES SULTAN © Michael S. Sanders 1987
Conventional date 2500-2100
Revised date 1775-1452
|Walled fortified city whose walls were rebuilt
at least 16 times in the whole early Bronze age period
||Pre-Patriarchal era. Time of independent city
|Destruction by earthquake and fire.
||Intermediate Period EBIII/IV two catastrophes
||Destruction everywhere in Near East. 2nd
destruction by invasion of enemies.
||1st destruction same event which causes Exodus
catastrophes. 2nd destruction Joshua's blast.
Conventional Date 2100-1900
Revised Date 1452-1399
|This and all other towns in Canaan show
occupation by a completely new people after an Intermediate time
of living in tents.
||Arrival of the nomadic Amorites followed by
more settled invaders.
||Invasion by Joshua and the Children of Israel.
Garrison of Benjaminites in spite of law against occupation.
|Town C, Palace I.
Conventional Date 1900-1500
Revised Date 1399-1185
|City reaches maximum size of 12 acres expanded
from earlier 8 acres. At an early stage defended by free
standing wall and then three successive building phases.
||Urban Semitic culture derived from coastal
Canaanite and Phoenician culture. Under a ruling warrior
aristocracy compared to the Hyksos in Egypt.
||1. Eglon smote Israel and "possessed" the City
2.. Occupation by Eglon King of Moab.
3. Expulsion of Moabites by Ehud
4. Re-Occupation by garrison of Benjaminites
||City violent destroyed
||Egyptians chasing Hyksos out of Egypt
||Final burning by Israel revenge against the
Tribe of Benjamin.
|Town C, Palace II.
Conventional Date 1525-1425
Revised Date 1185-1022
|Very Little evidence of a town, no
fortifications of note
||Canaanite Town. Tombs have many Egyptian
scarabs from Thuthmose III through Amenhophis III abruptly
||Thuthmose helps Deborah in her battle with
Sisera, hence Egyptian influence in the area at this time.
Conventional Date 1400-1200
Revised date 1022-915
|Little evidence of a town Mostly "eroded"
||Meager occupation, David asked men to tarry
|Final Destruction of Town.
||Very little evidence of anything
||Invasion By Sea Peoples
||No evidence of anything
|Iron Age II
||Massive Building found
||Building by Hiel, time of Ahab
Michael S. Sanders
April 14, 1998