The historical accuracy of the fall of Jericho has lain under a cloud of doubt in the minds of many for more than three decades John Garstang, a professor at the University of Liverpool, excavated Jericho between 1930 and 1936. Garstang identified a destruction level at the ancient site which he called City IV. He concluded that this was the occupation level which paralleled the city of Joshua’s day, and that the biblical account was accurate. Jericho had fallen to Israel about 1400 B.C. He wrote: “In a word, in all material details and in date the fall of Jericho took place as described in the Biblical narrative” (Garstang, 1937, p.1222). For several years scholars generally accepted Garstang’s conclusions. However, that was to radically change.
From 1952 to 1958, Kathleen Kenyon, of the British School of Archaeology (daughter of famed archaeologist, Sir Frederic Kenyon) supervised an expedition at Jericho. Her work was the most thorough and scientific that had been done at this site. Her team unearthed a significant amount of evidence, but surprisingly, Kenyon’s interpretation of the data was radically different from Garstang’s. She contended that City IV had been destroyed about 1550 B.C. and therefore there was no fortress city for Joshua to conquer around 1400 B.C. She suggested that the archaeological evidence discredited the biblical record! And, not surprisingly, a sizable segment of scholars fell dutifully into line. Whenever there appears to be an apparent conflict between the Bible and other data, there is always a certain group that immediately calls the Scriptures into question. They never have the patience to wait for the more complete picture. Comments like those of Magnusson are typical: “… on a purely literary level, the Book of Joshua reads more like an adventure story than history … there is no archaeological evidence to support it” (Magnusson, 1977, p.96). One of the most curious elements of this whole matter, however, is the fact that, prior to her death in 1978, Kathleen Kenyon’s opinions regarding Jericho had been published only in a popular book (Kenyon, 1957), in a few scattered artides, and in a series of preliminary field reports. The detailed record of her work was not made available until 1982-83, and an independent analysis of evidence is bringing to light some startling new conclusions!….
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