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Updated October 20th 2019

An article in Haaretz (Weekend Edition English) of the main insights presented in the paper
"The Architectural Bias in Current Biblical Archaeology" (Vetus Testamentum 69(3): 361-387)


The Invisible Biblical Kingdom in the Haaretz Weekend Edition
18 October 2019:6-7 in Acadamia.com


"The Numbering of the Israelites" --- an engraving by Henri Félix Emmanuel Philippoteaux (1815–1884)

A Chance Discovery Changes Everything We Know About Biblical Israel

The discovery of a powerful nomad kingdom in Israel's Arava desert upends our notion of the
role of archaeology in understanding Ancient Israel

By Erez Ben-Yosef Oct 17 2019 in Haaretz Newspaper in Israel

When it comes to the nomads of the biblical period, new findings show that the ability of archaeology to assist in constructing historical models has been extremely limited. This has dramatic implications for understanding the genesis of Ancient Israel when -- according to the biblical account -- it was nomadic tribes that created a kingdom.

Until now the scholarly literature has perceived non-sedentary societies of this region -- peoples that did not live in permanent settlements -- as Bronze and Iron Age “Bedouin”: simple societies that were ever on the margins of historical events void of political power and which cannot be identified with kingdoms or political entities wielding extra-regional influence. New archaeological discoveries in the Arava desert in southern Israel and in Jordan however show that this approach is mistaken and that nomads were able to forge complex political structures that differed substantively from the conventional “Bedouin model”.

But the Arava case is exceptional in world archaeology. Nomads almost never leave behind significant archaeological evidence. It follows that many archaeological “pronouncements” concerning the period of the entry into Canaan, the era of Judges and the incipient monarchy have no sound grounds. Now, at least with regard to historical processes involving mobile populations, it is time to acknowledge the limitations of archaeology’s contribution. The focal point of the discussion should revert to biblical criticism -- the study of the text and its contexts -- and research biases originating in simplistic archaeological pronouncements should be corrected.

The History of the Ancient Near East Electronic Compendium