Part Three: Cities
In this section, I have organized these cities into three types. Type One cities are those which have no urban EB strata, but sprang from MB II roots; of this kind, I discuss only Shechem. Type Two cities have only urban EB strata, and were not re-settled by the MB Amorites; I discuss
Some cities are specifically identified as Amorite, as is Gibion (Josh 9:3,7)—and this site has an identified MB IIA (Amorite) level. Further, the Amorite cities of
Type One (MB II only)
The original site occupied by Shechem was a 21st century / *4th millennium Calcholithic village. Abram built an altar there (c. 1991 bc, cf. Genesis 12:6f), as did Jacob after he purchased a plot of land (c. 1800 bc, Genesis 33:18-20). Its inhabitants were called "people of Hamor", meaning "the ass" (Genesis 34), and much later, the Mari texts (c. 1100 / *1700's) still called Shechemites "people of the Ass-Confederation" (Wright and Campbell, 1979, p. 459).
No Early Bronze (Canaanite) strata are recognized in Shechem, and the historical city was founded by MB IIA Amorites (c. 19th / *20th centuries). This unwalled city had a large palace or "civil center", which had courtyards and large rooms with massive walls. From
Most notable of this site is that a large area was cleared for a temple area outside the walls . . . perhaps on the site of the altar of Abram or Jacob. We find this area referred to in the book of Joshua. There is no mention of Joshua's conquering Shechem, yet he gives the dissertation of Joshua 24 there, in 1504 bc. Evidently the city came into his hands peacefully. At any rate, Joshua sets up a stele commemorating a covenant with the people. This was near an oak by "the sanctuary (miqdas) of the Lord" (v. 24) — the temple area outside the walls, called El-berith in Judges , meaning "the covenant God". So archeology has most likely recovered, in the Middle Bronze age, the very spot marked by Joshua — whom standard chronology would place in the far off Iron Age.
During the early Judges / early MB IIB period (1500-1335 / *1750-1650) the
Type Two (EB only)
Arad EB III-LB
The site of Arad was first occupied by an open Copper Age settlement, from the days of Gilgamesh and Amraphel, c. late 21st century bc (JH, 1997a). Likewise, EB I Arad had no wall, but there followed a 25 acre fortified city of typical Canaanite (EB II) design, with broad, single-room homes, a casement wall of large stones (the 8-foot-wide middle area filled with rubble), and defensive towers with an inside span of 10 feet. Egyptian vessels are found in these layers, and much painted and burnished local pottery, known mostly from Dynasty I tombs in Abydos. To read about walls and towers is perhaps not exciting, but such details are typical of just about all we have. The standard model has no history to pin to these ruins, but the Bible tells us what was going on during these centuries.
We read in the Bible that the “Canaanite, the king of Arad, who dwelt in the Negev” was an obstacle to the Hebrews in the wilderness (Numbers 14:44f, 21:1, 33:40). It is only to be expected that Moses and his people would meet hostility from Arad, which was an EB ally of Dynasty VI Egypt (Merenre II being the doomed pharaoh of the hard heart); thus we find a realpolitik motive for the otherwise apparently-random actions of these kings. What was the fate of this enemy of the people of God? Sometime after the appearance of Khirbet Kerak ware (thus, after the start of the "EB IIIB" period), the city was utterly destroyed and abandoned. This destruction, I propose, was the work of Joshua, as we read in Joshua 12:14. After this, Moses' in-laws, the Kenites, settled among the Amalekites, near the ruin of Arad (Judges 1:16). This provides us with a historical identity for at least some of the MB I nomads who peopled the countryside.
As for the site itself, it was abandoned, and no MB level is found; a small, open village was finally established only after a supposed *1,500 years, before the time of the "late", the liberal Exodus. By our reconstructed history, the city was rebuilt not after 1,500 years, but something under 600 years. So, during the Late Bronze I of the 10th / *15th century, a royal citadel was erected, perhaps by Solomon. This fort was destroyed and burned at least 6 times, but always quickly rebuilt. Many inscribed shards of LB pottery give us a picture of what is recognized by this reconstruction as the monarchy period, but by the standard account is considered the pre-Exodus Canaanite era.
Ai was founded c. 2000 / *3000 bc — by my reckoning around the time of the invasion of the kings of the east (Genesis 14). Excavations of et-Tell, the site identified as Ai, show it to have been a thriving and well-fortified EB city. Abraham would have found the earliest stages of this city when he built a shrine nearby, after returning from Egypt whither he fled the famine of 1991 bc (Genesis 13:3, cf. 12:8). The first EB II wall of Ai was replaced by a larger one, which in turn was again thickened to 7-8 meters.
The EB community is best represented at Ai, in its final Bronze Age level. This is the stage which produced the artificial EB III reservoir, capable of holding a half-million gallons; since Ai was not near a reliable source of water, this construction was a necessity. Indeed, that Ai was thriving and vigorous is indicated in Josh 7:4-5, when an over-confident force of 3000 Israelites was routed by the men of Ai.
Curiously, no Khirbet Kerak or contemporary ware was found, as at contemporary Arad—although Bethel, two miles away, has this pottery (considering that this type is diagnostic of EB III, perhaps Ai should be called EB II). As we shall see, the clear testimony of the Bible is that Ai and Bethel thrived at the same time. This fact clearly demonstrates that although neighboring cities may be similar in some regards, yet in significant ways citizens can maintain a strict segregation from the culture of their neighbors.
Ai was finally destroyed by fire in its final EB III stage, purportedly by the ‘Amorites’ of the *3rd millennium. “Violent destruction overtook the city about *2400 bc . . . . No definite identity of the aggressor is known . . . . The site . . . was abandoned and left in ruins after its destruction . . .” (Avi-Yonah and Stern, 1975, p. 49.) The city was not rebuilt. What are we to make of this? Around 1519 bc, Joshua stormed the EB city of Ai (Joshua 8:17), demolished it and killed its 12,000 inhabitants, leaving it “a heap forever” (8:28). The identity of the aggressor, it is here maintained, is known.
At this time, Joshua built at the entrance of the city a "great heap of stones" over the body of the king of Ai (). The archeologists who first excavated Ai uncovered just such a heap: “a six-meter heap of stones was laboriously removed from what proved to be the ruins of Sanctuary A and the citadel.” (Callaway and Schoonover, 1977, p. 41.) It is most likely this heap which gave Ai its Hebrew name, "ruin" — punning on its original name, which meant "city" (such a generic name may indicate that Ai was once the only, the first city in its area). The cult objects of the Sanctuary are quite important, but the architecture is merely a modification of the standard architecture of the end of EB III (Callaway, 1972).
Ai remained in ruins until the Iron Age I, c. 720 / *1220 — so there was no MB city at all. By standard reckoning, the tremendous gap between the Early Bronze and the Iron Age sets up a flat and irreconcilable antagonism with the Bible, since there clearly was a city of Ai in the days of Abraham, who lived long after the supposed *2400 bc date of the city's destruction. One attempt to explain away this fact is of scholars' casting “serious doubt” upon the identification of this tell as Ai, since no “completely satisfactory solution to the problems presented by the excavation of Ai has yet been advanced . . .” (Harrison, p. 83.) We have here a clear example of the awkwardness of the standard construction, and the power of our reconstructed history.
In any case, around 720 bc, a smaller settlement was built on the ancient ruins, apparently lasting a century or so, and mentioned in Is 10:28 in the context of the Assyrians. The Iron Age city is supposed to have been that destroyed by Joshua, but which was actually destroyed in the late 7th century bc by the Neo-Babylonians. I will not support this statement here — that must await its place in The Days of Brass and Iron.
Type Three (EB and MB)
Bethel MB IIA
The Khirbet Kerak (EB III) culture of Bethel was replaced by the MB IIA culture, and this did not affect Ai, which had anachronistically remained EB II. We have here empirical support of my assertion that overlapping cultures need not interact in any profound way. Just as significantly, recall the absence of MB levels at Ai — as our reconstruction expects, since EB and MB (especially EB II/III, MB I, and MB IIA) were not strictly successive, but overlapping. Most interestingly, Early Bronze Ai and Middle Bronze IIA Bethel meet in the Bible.
In Joshua 8:17, we are told that, allied with the men of Ai, all the men of Bethel went “out after Israel, and they left the city open, and pursued after Israel.” Ai was destroyed as we have just seen, and from Joshua 12:16 we may infer that Bethel was too. This destruction of Bethel is found in the archeological record, where the MB IIA city was destroyed. Indeed, traces of blood were still to be found under the ruined city gate. Again, notice that Ai was destroyed in EB times and not rebuilt, yet according to the witness of the Bible, both Ai and MB IIA Bethel were destroyed at the same time.
Jericho EB III-MB IIB
Jericho was the most notable of the EB cities. Thanks to the excavations of Kathleen Kenyon, this city is one of the best known of the ancient world, having been explored all the way down to virgin soil. Rather than causing any embarrassment to my reconstruction, the facts of archeology brilliantly support it.
Jericho must have been settled not too long after the Dispersion of Babel (2192 bc), and the remains of this earliest settlement are labeled Mesolithic. There followed a Neolithic village (c. 2130? / c. *8000 bc) with a massive stone wall. This first of Jericho's walls was most likely built as a response to the invasion of Nimrod. Although Jericho is said to be more than 10,000 years old, this is just a myth of modernism. The millennia may be telescoped into mere decades and centuries. The 17 phases of the city do not represent any natural, snail's-pace dilapidation, but instead the frequent rebuilding and expansions of a dynamic culture which existed in a time of cyclic cataclysms. Rather than multiple millennia, the rebuildings occurred on average every 41 years, over a period of almost 700 years — from the Confusion at Babel until the conquest of Joshua. It is interesting to note that the walls of Jericho were built in sections, apparently in an attempt to minimize earthquake damage. It takes no effort whatsoever to recognize the role of earthquakes in the conquest of Jericho by Joshua.
The Neolithic city was destroyed presumably in the cataclysm which struck at (or before) the time when Abraham was young (b. 2066 bc). The indigenous population was replaced by another group with a different community, presumably Calcholithic. This culture, in turn, was devastated by the Sodom cataclysm of 1967 bc (JH, 1997a, chapters 4, 6 & 8). There followed “a recession, and a town reappears at Jericho only in the E.B. *period.” (Kenyon, 1979, p. 995.) The new race in Jericho would be the ethnic Canaanites. This last EB city thrived during
“a fully urban stage, for the greater part of the town was enclosed by mud-brick walls. The complex structures in all excavated areas suggests a thriving population, and the many rebuildings of the town walls, sometimes in new positions, show how necessary it was to keep the defenses in repair, either against the occupants of neighboring Palestinian towns or against invaders from the east.” (Kenyon, 1967, p. 26.)
From Josh 8:21, where the hapless Achan steals a “beautiful Babylonian garment,” we learn of contact between Jericho and Mesopotemia—Akkad, by our timeline.
The final destruction of EB III Jericho is supposed to have been due to the Amorites, but this reconstruction recognizes this level of Jericho as that of Rahab the harlot, who had lived in the very (casement) walls which were thrown down during the siege of Joshua. In the excavations of Jericho performed in the 1930's, Professor Garstang uncovered “the final phase of the wall that had surrounded the Early Bronze Age town about *2350 bc.” (Kenyon, 1987, p. 73.) This wall had burned and collapsed: “The seventeenth [wall] was destroyed by a raging fire, and its destruction marks the end of the Early Bronze Age town . . .” (Kenyon, 1967, p. 27.) Wood had been piled up against the outside of the wall and burned, and the ashes were still to be found by the excavators—we find this detail in Josh 6:24. (Note that this is known Hebrew custom, since Gideon and his host broke fire-pots on the night of their attack against Midian [Jdg 7:16], and King Abimelech heaped firewood against the walls of Shechem [Jdg 9:49].) Of all the levels of Jericho, this last EB city perfectly matches that which suffered its fate under the hand of Joshua. The standard paradigm forbids such an identification, but our reconstruction shows that the archeological data and the biblical record are in close harmony.
Some 9 feet (2.75 meters) of silt accumulated on the mound before the next settlement proper was built. This silt should be the product of the unsettled weather of this era of the Long Day — being wind-blown loess and so on. During the interim, the tell was a camp for nomads, who left considerable debris; the absence of any significant MB I or IIA strata is explained away as the work of erosion (Kenyon, 1979, p. 993; Kenyon, 1987, p. 73). During the period of the Judges — MB IIB — a great "Hyksos" rampart was constructed, typical of the times. There is so little evidence for an actual MB settlement, however, that this gateless, ‘great earth bank’ is no contradiction to Joshua’s curse (6:26; cf 1K 16:34) upon the entirely different casement wall that lay fallen before him. As for the Late Bronze city which is imagined to be that of Joshua, there are “very few traces of occupation above the Middle Bronze Age defenses.” (Kenyon, 1987a).
Hazor EB IIIB-MB IIB
Hazor (north of the Sea of Galilee) is mentioned in the records of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt. The Execration Texts of Dynasty XII curse as an enemy Gt'i, the (non-semitic) king of Hazor. From the Egyptian perspective, Gt’I was a non-Semite of MB IIA Palestine, but we identify him most likely as an EB true ethnic Canaanite.
Hazor was really two cities: the tell on the plain, and the citadel on the hill. But the citadel was built only after the Exodus, and was an important MB IIB city. In the days of the Middle Kingdom Egyptians, only the more ancient tell existed. At its bedrock level, the first pottery to be found is of the EB IIIB type (Khirbet Kerak), which suggests that the first settlement was made sometime in the late 19th or in the 18th century.
Archeology shows that this city was destroyed, and we read of this very event in the Bible. Under king Jabin ("aggressive"), Hazor was the chief of all the local Canaanite kingdoms (Joshua 11:10); in 1519 bc, Hazor was the only northern capital which Joshua burned (11:13). The site was then occupied by nomads, who left much MB I pottery, but very few structures. After this, urban Hazor re-emerged, “and it appears that the huge earth ramparts there were constructed during the transition between MB IIA and MB IIB . . .” (Mazar, p. 178.)
When the land of Canaan was divided among the tribes of Israel, the region of Hazor was assigned to the tribe of Naphteli (Joshua 19:36). But this tribe did not secure the area, and so Hazor was built again, stronger still; at this time, the high MB IIB citadel was first raised.
The earliest citadel stratum, Level 4, was built on virgin soil. It had an intricate system of tunnels and caverns which honeycombed the city, part of the original city design. Archeological excavations have uncovered cisterns which had been converted into tombs that yield scarabs from “the very beginning of the Middle Bronze II occupation.” (Yadin, 1975, p. 124.) This culture of Hazor, under another king also named Jabin, dominated Israel for two decades, until the time of Deborah. And here we must leave Hazor, before we go too far afield.
Megiddo EB III-MB IIA
The first settlement of Megiddo had the Copper Age culture (*4th millennium) associated with the days of Gilgamesh. The EB I village was abandoned, replace by the EB II city, which had an inner, walled sacred area, surrounded by the city's stone wall, initially 15, and later 26 feet thick; this wall also had a defensive square tower. At Megiddo, as at Jericho, the city walls were built in sections.
In its brief EB stage, it appears to have been quite powerful, and its late EB III stage saw major changes. The western slope of its site was filled in, and a massive building, perhaps a palace, was constructed. A "sacred area" with three temples and a circular "high place" has been excavated. These temples are atypical of Palestine, comparable to the megaron temples of *3rd millennium Troy and elsewhere, but none other has similar broad, pillared halls. Only Byblos has a parallel, in its several EB III shrines of Baalath. But this city was destroyed, like so many others of its type, and since the Sodom cataclysm was too early to have brought about this destruction, we should look to the great war of Sesostris III as the likely cause (JH, 1997a, ch. 8). In any case, the site was abandoned, and this could be the reason for the silence of the Execration Texts regarding Megiddo.
The unfortified, sparse and ill-constructed "MB I" settlement (c. 1800? / c. *2000) which replaced the EB city is recognized now in only a few traces, in Stratum XIVb. The ruined EB temple was converted into a small chapel, and over the very site of its altar were found votive offerings. The village may indeed have lasted the supposed *century which convention asserts, but we must recognize this "century" as a product of the standard theory, rather than of any archeological evidence — after all, if there are "few traces", on what other grounds can we suppose a century passed?
“Megiddo Strata XIII-XII designated the gradual growth of an urban center during MB IIA.” (Mazar, p. 178.) The "slow growth" at Megiddo is similar to that of Aphek, but it seems likely that this supposed delay is the requirement of the standard timeline, rather than of the actual evidence. In any case, Megiddo's old EB temple was converted to an open cult area with standing stones (masebot). This MB IIA phase of Megiddo was closely allied to Dynasty XII of the 1700's. This is suggested by an artifact bearing the name of the high official Thuthotep, and other such indications. The Execration Texts curse many neighboring cities, but omit mention of Megiddo — and as noted this may been it lay in MB I ruins, or that it had been rebuilt by then into an ally.
After the Conquest, a massive earthen, MB IIB "Hyksos" wall enclosed the city, but no inscriptions have been found there. Joshua conquered its king (Joshua 12:21), but the tribe of Manasseh failed to drive out the citizens from the city (17:12), instead conscripting them into forced labor (Judges 1:28,30).
Ugarit EB IIIB-MB IIA
Ugarit (Ras Shamra) has five archeological layers, with stratum I at the top. Over ten meters beneath the surface, the first, Neolithic settlement (stratum V) was built on bedrock. This culture was initially pre-ceramic Neolithic, dated c. 2192 / *7th millennium — very soon indeed after the scattering at Babel.
The Chalcolithic city of stratum IV was contemporary with the Tell Halaf culture, c. 21st century / c. *5th millennium bc. Likewise, stratum IIIb is correlated to the Ubaid culture of Mesopotamia, c. late 21st century / *4th millennium bc; from my chronology, the rise of this culture seems to be linked to the conquests of Nimrod.
Stratum IIIa was controlled by the Canaanites of the EB IIIB (Khirbet Kerak) culture. This civilization was interrupted by an invasion, reportedly from the north; the invaders brought a skillfully crafted bronze ware, and appear to have been absorbed into the Canaanite local culture. These northerners would be a wave of those Anatolians who had been set to wandering by Sesostris III (JH, 1997a, ibid).
In harmony with our thesis, the next level (stratum II) is designated as MB IIA — occupied by the urban Amorites. Here, we find a few monuments of Middle Kingdom Egypt, specifically of Dynasty XII and, more importantly, Dynasty XIII.
Byblos and Ras Shamra were utterly devastated at the end of EB, but while it is said that Ras Shamra remained desolate, Byblos more than anywhere else retained an urban identity.
The royal tombs of Byblos are an important part of our knowledge of the MB Amorites. These MB IIA tombs have been dated to the *1700's, “but the chronological spread of their contents has been impossible to establish exactly.” (Albright, p. 54.) This is only what we would expect. Be that as it may, an object from the first of these tombs was inscribed with the name of Amenemhet III (c. mid-18th cent. / c. late *1842-1797), and from the second an object bears the name of Amenemhet IV (c. 1700 / *1798-1789), and another had the name of the Byblos prince Yapi-shemu-abi, son of Abi-shemu. It is in such rare scraps of writing that we place our confidence.
Another tomb inscription
makes it certain that Entin (or Yantin ['NTN]) of Byblos was contemporary with the [Dynasty XIII] Egyptian Pharaoh Neferhetep, who reigned for eleven years between about *1740 [c. 1660?] and *1730. The fact that the name Entin or Yantin is obviously a normal abbreviated form of the name of Yantin-ammu, contemporary of Zimri-Lim of Mari, makes it almost certain that Yantin outlived Neferhetep and died no earlier than about *1725 bc [c. 1645 bc?]. (Albright, p. 55 — emphasis added.)
Notice how "certain" such conclusions are, yet there is no justification for such "certainty".
We know on the face of the matter that even if Entin is an abbreviated name, there are no empirical grounds whatsoever to equate the prince of Byblos with the peer of Zimri-Lim, whom I place centuries later. This equation is an assumption made by the archeologist on the basis of the faulty standard timeline, and has its foundation in no actual synchronism. Even the most cursory of surveys will reveal that different kings of any given city shared elements of a name, e.g. Jabin, the dynastic name of the kings of Hazor. Even Zimri is such an example, being the king of Mari, and also a (brief) king of Israel. In fact, Zimri-Lim of Mari ruled some 600 years after the start of Dynasty XIII and these princes of Byblos. The "almost certain" end of Yantin can be correct only by coincidence.
Ebla — c. 2100 / *3500; Dynastic: 1650-1500 / *2400-2250
The newly discovered metropolis of Ebla is near the village of Mardikh in NW Syria. Identification was made from a statue bearing an inscription: “Ibbit-Lim, son of Igrish-Khepa, king of the Eblaite dynasty.” (LaSor, 1988 p. 757.) From its earliest days Ebla appears to have been a semitic stronghold, which has forced a revolution in the orthodox view of the Semites as late immigrants into Syria. There “is not a single Hurrian name” (LaSor, ibid) found in the tablets of Ebla, although the names of Hurrian idols are found.
The most remarkable find at Ebla was its famous trove in "Palace G" of "20,000" tablets — although when the fragments were assembled, the number of complete tablets is estimated at only about four- or five-thousand. They had been stored on wooden shelves, shelved like books; they were round or rectangular, from under an inch to 10 inches across. The tablets were written in Sumerian and also in "Paleo-Canaanite."
This seems to be as good a place as any to discuss the languages of Canaan. The Hebrew language is no late development, but rather a reasonably pure descendant of the language of Shem, Noah, and Adam himself (JH, 1997a, chapters 2 & 3). Standard textbooks call the language of the ethnic Canaanites "Paleo-Canaanite", and identify it as a northwest Semitic dialect related to Hebrew, Phoenician, and the supposed ancestor, Ugaritic. In reality, what is called "Paleo-Canaanite" is just a Hebrew dialect contemporary with the Kingdom Period of Israel, and Ugaritic is from the time of the late judges and early kings.
While "Paleo-Canaanite" demonstrates a close relationship to biblical Hebrew, as in its vocabulary, there are significant differences — for example in its personal names and prepositions, which are close to Akkadian. The language of the Amorites is known for the most part only through proper names, and its precise relationship to Hebrew-Canaanite-Aramaic is controversial; we recognize it as a peer of Hebrew. The language of the true Canaanites — EB contemporaries of Moses — may be unknown, or it may have been Hurrian or some other of the various tongues of the melting pot of Palestine.
The Ebla texts preserved incantations and hymns, administrative or judicial texts, and so on. The personal name of God, Yah, appears in the texts — as it does also in the Egyptian Tale of Sinuhe. The significance of this is certainly not that the God of Israel evolved from a pagan concept; rather, it demonstrates that, along with all the lies, the truth had also once been known — however corrupt it had since become. Sumerian and Hurrian pagan gods known from the Bible are mentioned. Thus we read of Dagan, Baal, Malik (Molech), Kamish (Chemosh), Ashtar (Ishtar), Adad (Hadad), Il (El), Sipish (Shamash), Rasap (Resheph). We also find mentioned such cities as Hazor, Megiddo, Salem, Joppa, Lachish, Gaza, and so on.
When these texts were found, extravagant claims were made, such as that Sodom and Gomorrah, and the other cities of the plain, were named. This would have placed the culture — or at least its memory — before 1967 bc, the date of Sodom's fall. These early reports (that all five of the Cities on the Plain were found on a single tablet, in the same order as in Gen 13:12) have been retracted, however. In fact, the very identity of some of these cities has been altered (see LaSor, ibid). However, since Mesalim of Kish was contemporary with kings of Ebla, we know Ebla existed in the 1900's bc.
Ebla became the center of a great empire which under the rule of king Ibrum spanned from the Mediterranean to the Tigris. Ibrum is not Abram, but rather an older contemporary of Sargon, who was an older contemporary of Moses. Furthermore, the cuneiform of Ebla is too developed to be that of Abraham's day. “The cuneiform writing on the Ebla tablets is like that of Jemdet Nasr (1900's bc / *2800-2700)” and Erech or Kish (c. 1860 / *2600 bc), but “somewhat different from that of Lagash ([c. 1700 /] ca. *2450), and markedly different from that of later periods. . . .The system used at Ebla had many logograms . . .” (LaSor, ibid, p. 753.)
Ebla at it height was contemporary with Joseph and Moses. Ebla's Palace G is dated by a bowl-inscription naming Chephren (Khafre, 18th century) of Dynasty IV, and by a vase naming Phiops/Pepi I (17th century) of Dynasty VI. Contrary to the standard expectation, Phiops I lived almost 300 years after Mesalim. This palace also had pottery of Amuq I (c. Akkad, EB IVA) & J type. A tablet mentions king Iblul-Il of Mari, and a votive offering from just prior to Sargon bears the same name (probably of the same king, although thought to be earlier). Sargon claimed to have conquered Ebla, as did his grandson Naram-Sin, who is evidently responsible for the destruction by fire of the MB I Palace (c. 1500). Ebla was not forgotten however, and it appears that urban life recovered, since the Sumerian king Gudea of Lagash (c. 1400 / *2100) says that he transported lumber “from the city Ursu on the mountain of Ibla.” (In LaSor, ibid, p. 751.)
The city was rebuilt, and a governor from Ur III ruled there. Later, it is mentioned in the Alalkh texts of level VII (c. *1760-1650) and of level IV, as well as in texts of Baghazkoy and Cappadocia. The last time Ebla is mentioned is by Thutmose III (*1490-1436) in a list from Karnak. Standard thinking separates Ebla from Amarna by only half a millennium, but the difference is actually about a full millennium.
“The Lower City West at Tell Mardikh represents the second and last (based on our present knowledge about the site) stage of Ebla: the Old Syrian period [MB I & II; Mardikh IIIA & B, *2000-1800-1600 bc].” (LaSor, ibid, p. 757.) The monumental style of architecture of this time, such as the "MB I" Western Palace, is also found in southern Palestine, but the Temple style is found only in the north. As for the chronology of this era, the standard version is utterly chaotic here, but prior to *1600 (c. 870 bc), the Old Hittite kings, Hattusilis I and Mursilis I, invaded Syria and captured Alalakh, Urshu, Aleppo, and most likely Ebla too; after this, Mursilis captured Babylon itself.
This ends our discussion of the Early and Middle Bronze Age. To summarize, we noted that the earliest, anonymous EB I race was replaced by the ethnic Canaanites of EB II & III, the culture of which lasted until the age of Moses and Joshua. As for the Amorites, their rural or merchant tribes are identified with the MB I label, while their urban centers are called MB IIA. The MB I lifestyle seems to have lasted around 600 years, into the 1300's. The urban MB IIA culture of the Amorites flowed into MB IIB around the time of the Conquest of Canaan.
The archeological evidence is more than amenable to this new biblical interpretation. Where it would be devastating to find MB strata over EB strata, we do not find them. As I already noted, if we were to find MB IIA artifacts over an EB III city which the Bible said was destroyed by Joshua, our new paradigm would be falsified. We do not find such a thing. Instead, in exactly the places where I demand that there be gaps between EB and MB, that is where we find such gaps. Sites which the orthodox scheme claims were abandoned for 1,500 years, we find to have been built up in a third of that time. And always, where the standard scheme can make no sense of the account in the Bible when correlated to archeology, this reconstruction fits naturally.
I do not downplay the spiritual message of the Bible, in order to emphasize its historical authenticity. When I point out the literal and historical character of the Bible, I do this that we may more perfectly know the truth. Insofar as it is profitable to study the past, let us study it correctly — and we may do that, not through the invented interpretation of standard chronology, but with the guidance of those who were eye-witnesses, and whose testimony we find in the Bible.
Note that I have placed heavy reliance on A. Mazar, by using much of his detail; rather than clutter these pages with endless citations, I here generally refer any interested reader to his pp. 108-191. Even more importantly, I use him as the "voice" of the standard paradigm, which I may then rebut.
Albright, W.F., The Archaeology of Palestine, Harmondsworth, 1960, p. 84.
Albright, W.F., "Some Remarks on the Archaeological Chronology of Palestine before about 1500 BC," pp. 49‑57, in COWA 2.
Amiran, R., Israel Exploration Journal (IEJ), vol. 20, 1970, pp. 170-179).
Amiran, R., IEJ, vol. 22, 1972, pp. 86-88.
Amiran, R., IEJ, vol. 24, 1974, pp. 4-12.
Amiran, R., Early Arad, Jerusalem, 1978, pp. 13, 51-52.
Amiran, R., et al., The Israel Museum Journal, vol. 2, 1983, pp. 75-83.
Ancien, Actes du Colloque d' Emmaus, October 20-24, 1986, Paris.
Beck, P., TA 12, 1985, pp. 181-203
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