AIA Newsletter: Finkelstein’s Redating
The Australian Institute of Archaeology produces a newsletter, the current edition of which is online (also in pdf). You may also subscribe by email request. Some items are specific to Australian readers, but other articles are of broader interest. For example, one item notes Israel Finkelstein’s revision of his Low Chronology to be closer to the mainstream position.
During his presentation [at SBL 2010], Israel Finkelstein revised his dating, and stated that he was now dating the transition from Iron Age I to IIA to about 950 BC. This was momentous. Based on their experiences in the Philistine areas and sites such as Lachish, Ussishkin and Finkelstein have been dating the start of Iron Age II to 920–900 BC and they, and many others, have used this dating to argue that David and Solomon did not exist. Archaeologists working elsewhere in the southern Levant have found the comparatively short period of Iron Age II problematic because it was diﬃcult to compress their Iron Age II levels into it. While they mounted archaeological arguments to support an earlier start to Iron Age II they were normally accused of being ‘biblically biased’.
Now that Finkelstein is digging at Megiddo, where there is a signiﬁcant depth of Iron Age II material, he realises that the period was longer and that an earlier date for the start of Iron Age II is necessary. There are numerous books written by Finkelstein arguing that there was no United Monarchy because Iron Age II began long after the time it was supposed to have existed. Unfortunately these books will continue to have inﬂuence for decades to come, although the core argument is no longer accepted. The change does not mean that the United Monarchy did exist; it simply removes one of the hypothesised impediments. It was interesting that in the presentations the only person to regularly refer to biblical texts was Finkelstein: for him, disproving the Old Testament appears to be a hobby-horse. Much of the scholarly world has been ﬁxated on Finkelstein conveying his hypotheses as facts. It will be interesting to see if it now takes a less dogmatic stance.
HT: James Lancaster