EXCERPT “A Border Fortress in the Highlands of Canaan and a Proposed New Location for the Ai of Joshua 7–8.”

Fig. 1. The Location of Kh. el-Maqatir in Relation to the Major Roads in Central Canaan in the Second Millennium BC. © Associates for Biblical Research 2011.

The Site

Khirbet el-Maqatir is strategically located in the highlands of Canaan, 15 km (9 mi) north of Jerusalem (17378/14693), on the south bank of the Wadi el-Gayeh. It lies on the east side of the main north-south ridge road through the central hill country, running from Jerusalem to Bethel (modern El Bireh)1 west of the site and on to Shechem to the north. A major east-west road proceeded from Rabbah in Transjordan, past the north side of Kh. el-Maqatir, then to Bethel and on to Joppa on the Mediterranean coast (Fig. 1). It is situated on an eroded natural limestone hill whose summit is 890 m (2920 ft) above sea level. Bedrock is exposed in many places, with the remaining soil less than 1 m (3.3 ft) deep in most cases.

Edward Robinson, Claude Conder and Horatio Kitchener, as well as other early explorers who visited the site, made note of a Byzantine church on the summit and a Late Hellenistic/Early Roman building complex 200 m (220 yd) to the southeast, some 10 m (33 ft) below the summit. A number of cisterns are associated with these remains; no natural source of water has yet been located on the site. Kh. el-Maqatir was surveyed by the Archaeological Survey of the Hill Country of Benjamin in 1981. They were the first to report remains between the summit and the Late Hellenistic/Early Roman building complex, which they dated to the Middle Bronze and Iron Age I periods. The Late Hellenistic/Early Roman remains were labeled Site 17-14/36/1 and the Middle Bronze and Iron Age I remains Site 17-14/36/2 (Finkelstein and Magen 1993: 22*, 81–82; Finkelstein, Lederman and Bunimovitz 1997: 519–22). The Byzantine monastery on the summit, however, was not surveyed. The site has suffered from extensive robbing, agriculture, erosion and other disturbances from antiquity to the present, and is currently threatened by impending development….

 

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