How the finds made at KQ will impact Finkelstein’s Low Chronology is a matter of great interest. He might abandon his LC, without abandoning his pertinent criticisms of commonplace reconstructions higher chronologies embody. It would not be hard to do. A scant 60 years separates his chronology from that proposed by Amihai Mazar. Mazar dates the beginning of Iron IIA to ca. 980 (Mazar 2008); Finkelstein, to ca. 920.
Without abandoning his LC, it is no problem for Finkelstein to say that “activity at the site [KQ] started ca. 1050 bce and . . . ended no later than 915 bce” (Finkelstein and Piasetzky 2010). That said, Finkelstein could have gone on to note that in principle Iron IIA may have begun as early as 980 bce– in agreement with Mazar. He opts instead to assign Iron Age KQ a long time span, to the end of Iron I, with the onset of IIA still dated to ca. 920.
There is nothing necessary or even likely about Finkelstein’s long chronology for KQ. That said, it is nonetheless the case that F’s LC continues to prove its heuristic value.
After calibration and averaging, carbon-14 determinations yield a date in the range of 1051–969 bce (with 77.8% probability) (Garfinkel and Ganor 2008). The determinations square, on the classical model, with a synchronism in the time of Saul (ca. 1025-1005; the exact length of Saul’s reign is unknown) and/or David (ca. 1005–965), but not Solomon (968-928).
In response, Finkelstein and Piasetzky (2010) re-value the carbon-14 dates obtained so far for Iron Age KQ with respect to establishing precise dates thereof, by embracing the entire chronological span compatible with them. The workarounds of Finkelstein’s choice: (1) a rejection of the practice of calibrating 14C dates and a rejection of the averaging procedure employed by the KQ excavators; (2) a dismissal of the sequence and dates of biblical tradition for Saul, David, and Solomon (Finkelstein 2006); and finally, since every stool no matter how flimsy needs three legs, (3) the assertion that Iron IIA, typically associated with the early to late 10th century, is to be assigned to the late 10th to late 9th centuries (Finkelstein 2006).
One thing Finkelstein cannot do: disassociate the Qeiyafa pottery assemblage from the terminal Iron I/ early Iron IIA horizon. As has been pointed out by Bill Dever and Jack Holladay (disclaimer: Holladay is my mentor, along with Al Glock, in Syro-Palestinian archaeology), the Qeiyafa pottery assemblage is comparable to Gezer Stratum VIII (see Brian Janeway’s recently posted report on last year’s ASOR papers dealing with Khirbet Qeiyafa; note however that Brian misleads by assimilating Finkelstein to the miminalist camp; Finkelstein is a scathing critic of the minimalism of Davies and Thompson (see “The Rise and Fall of the Minimalist School,” Finkelstein in Finkelstein and Mazar 2007: 12-14).
To be sure, the synchronism proposed by Dever and Holladay opens up another possibility, at odds with the view of Avitz and Finkelstein according to which KQ reflects late Iron I rather than early Iron IIA: KQ was occupied into the (early) Solomonic period.
If KQ poses a challenge to Finkelstein’s chief theses, it buries those of the minimalists. Israel in Transition Volume 2, edited by Lester Grabbe with contributions by Philip Davies, Niels Peter Lemche, and John Van Seters, is due to hit the bookstores in September. One cannot help looking forward to its contents with singular anticipation. In my view, the Davies-Lemche-Van Seters-Thompson approach is equivalent to whistling in the dark. They can hope against hope that nothing turns up that discredits their conclusions. I can’t help thinking: it already has.
If someone can interpret the data referred to above such that minimalism remains a viable alternative, please do so in the comments.
Note: for a not quite up-to-date Finkelstein bibliography, go here. A number of Finkelstein’s essays not available through ATLA, JSTOR, or Ingenta Connect are retrievable online in pre-pub form by googling their titles. Courtesy of Charles Conroy, a basic bibliography on the low chronology, now seriously out of date, is available here. Two of Amihai Mazar’s most important essays not otherwise immediately accessible in electronic form can be found here.
Yohanan Aharoni, “The Conquests of David According to Psalms 60 and 108,” in Bible and Jewish History: Studies in Bible and Jewish History Dedicated to the Memory of Jacob Liver (Binyamin Uffenheimer, ed.; Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University Press, 1972) 11-17; Israel Finkelstein, “Excavations at Kh. ed-Dawwara: An Iron Age Site Northeast of Jerusalem,” Tel Aviv 17 (1990) 163-208; idem, “The Rise of Jerusalem and Judah: The Missing Link,” Levant 33 (2001) 105-15; idem, “The Last Labayu: King Saul and the Expansion of the First North Israelite Territorial Entity,” in Essays on Ancient Israel in its Near Eastern Context, A Tribute to Nadav Na’aman (Yairah Amit, Ehud Ben Zvi, Israel Finkelstein, and Oded Lipschits, eds.; Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2006) 171-177; Israel Finkelstein and Amihai Mazar, The Quest for the Historical Israel: Debating Archaeology and the History of Early Israel (Brian B. Schmidt, ed.; SBL Archaeology and Biblical Studies 17; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2007); Israel Finkelstein and Eliazer Piasetzky, The Iron I-IIA in the Highlands and Beyond: 14C Anchors, Pottery Phases and the Shoshenq I Campaign, Levant 38 (2006) 45-61; idem, “Khirbet Qeiyafa: Absolute Chronology,” Tel Aviv 37 (2010) 84-88; Volkmar Fritz, “The Character of the Urbanisation in Palestine at the Beginning of the Iron Age,” in Nuove fondazioni nel Vicino Oriente antico: realtà e ideologia (Stefania Mazzoni, ed.; Atti del colloquio 4-6 dicembre 1991, Dipartimento di Scienze storiche del mondo antico, Sezione di egittologia e scienze storiche del Vicino Oriente, Università degli studi di Pisa; Pisa: Giardini, 1995) 231-252; Yosef Garfinkel and Saar Ganor, Khirbet Qeiyafa: Sha‛arayim,” JHS 8 (2008): Article 22; idem, Khirbet Qeiyafa Vol. I: Excavation Report 2007-2008 (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 2009); idem, “Khirbet Qeiyafa in Survey and Excavations: A Response to Y. Dagan,” Tel Aviv 37 (2010) 67-78; Hoo-Goo Kang and Yosef Garfinkel, “The Early Iron Age IIA Pottery,” in Khirbet Qeiyafa Vol. I: Excavation Report 2007-2008 (Yosef Garfinkel and Saar Ganor, with contributions by others; Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 2009) 119-149; idem, “Ashdod Ware I: Middle Philistine Decorated Ware,” in Khirbet Qeiyafa Vol. I: Excavation Report 2007-2008 (Yosef Garfinkel and Saar Ganor, with contributions by others; Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 2009) 151-160; Thomas E. Levy et al, “High-precision radiocarbon dating and historical biblical archaeology in southern Jordan,” PNAS 105 (2008) 16460–16465; Amihai Mazar, “The Debate over the Chronology of the Iron Age in the Southern Levant: Its History, the Current Situation and a Suggested Resolution,” in The Bible and Radiocarbon Dating: Archaeology, Text and Science (Thomas E. Levy and Thomas Higham, eds.; London: Equinox, 2005) 15-30; idem, “From 1200 to 850 B.C.E.: Remarks on Some Selected Archaeological Issues,” in Israel in Transition: From Late Bronze II to Iron IIa (c. 1250-850 B.C.E.) Volume 1 The Archaeology (Lester L. Grabbe, ed.; London: T & T Clark, 2008) 86-120; Avi Ofer, “‘All the Hill Country of Judah’: From a Settlement Fringe to a Prosperous Monarchy,” in From Nomadism to Monarchy: Archaeological and Historical Aspects of Early Israel (Israel Finkelstein and Nadav Na’aman, eds.; Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 2004) 92-121; Anson F. Rainey, “Survival and Renewal: Eleventh Century BCE” and “Territorial States: Tenth Century BCE” in The Sacred Bridge: Carta’s Atlas of the Biblical World (Anson F. Rainey and R. Steven Notley; Shmuel Ahituv, ed.; Jerusalem: Carta, 2006) 131-156; 157-189; Lily Singer-Avitz, “The Relative Chronology of Khirbet Qeiyafa,” Tel Aviv 37 (2010) 79-83; David Ussishkin, “Solomon’s Jerusalem: The Text and the Facts on the Ground,” in Jerusalem in Bible and Archaeology: The First Temple Period (Andrew G. Vaughn and Ann E. Killebrew, eds.; SBL Symposium Series 18; Leiden: Brill, 2003) 103-115