The Newsletter of the Megiddo Expedition

Virtual Reality
Temple Complex
In Memoriam
Thutmose III
Faunal Remains
Charms Capture
The 1998 Excavation
In the Footsteps... OI
The Gossip Corner
Showdown at San Fransico
Tenth-Century Chronology Debate Rages at SBL Meeting
The Directors of the Megiddo Expedition headed to beautiful San Francisco last year for a conference sponsored by the Society of Biblical Literature. 

Ariel Wapnish-Hesse (Megiddo Archaeozoologist Paula Wapnish’s daughter) cleans the destruction debris of Stratum VIA (Level K-4) in Area K. Stratum VIA is the last “Canaanite” city at Megiddo.

Hershel Shanks, Editor of Biblical Ar-chaeology Review, chaired the main session, dedicated to the 10th-century debate. The standing room only session was good naturedly described by Professor Lawrence Stager as “The San Francisco Showdown” (see Dec. 31, 1997 Wall Street Journal).The debate exists as there is no absolute chronological anchor between the end of the Egyptian 20th Dynasty in the 12th century and the Assyrian campaigns in the late 8th (see Finkelstein in Levant 1996). The key Megiddo stratum is VA-IVB, widely believed to be Solo-monic. Finkelstein argues that the Solo-monic city should possibly be identified with Stratum VIA, and VA-IVB with the Omrides.Two pillars support the prevailing chronology: 1) The theory that the Philistines were settled in the southern coastal plain of Canaan immediately after their battle with Ramses III (1175 BCE). Since excavations at multi-strata sites showed that the char-acteristic Philistine pottery, Bichrome, had a long life-span, it was dated to the 12th-11th centuries. Strata just above levels with Philistine Bichrome were accordingly dated to the 10th; 2) The attribution of Megiddo Stratum IV to Solomon, based on the connection between Solomon’s building activity at Megiddo, his chariot cities (mentioned in I Kings 9:15, 19), and the pillared buildings, identified as stables, uncov-ered at Megiddo. Yadin redated the pillared build-ings to Omride Stratum IVA and the Solomonic city to VA-IVB, character-ized by ashlar palaces (e.g., Palace 6000, which Yadin partially excavated, and which we further exposed this summer). Yadin’s new order was based on the posited link between the gates at Megiddo, Hazor and Gezer and Solomon’s building activities in I Kings 9:15. However, Ussishkin has shown that the gate at Megiddo should be affiliated with Stratum IVA, later than Solomon’s days. Further, similar gates have been found at sites of the late Iron Age II as well as sites outside the borders of the Solomonic state. 
 As for the “Finkelstein correc-tion’s” upper anchor, Monochrome pottery, representing the first phase of Philistine settlement, has not been found in any Egyptian stronghold. Further, the Egyptianized pottery of the southern 20th-Dynasty sites has not been found in the Monochrome strataAt Ashdod 
 and Tel Miqne the Mono-chrome stratum was built over the destroyed 20th-Dynasty city. Thus, Monochrome is post-Egyptian rule, i.e., late 12th century, while Bichrome, which developed from Monochrome, was in use in the 11th/early 10th centu-ries. Hence, the first strata to postdate Bichrome should be dated to the mid- to late 10th century. 
 As for the lower anchor at Me-giddo, Philistine Bichrome is absent from the Stratum VIA ceramic assem-blage. Thus, VIA can hardly be dated in the 11th century. Further, the pottery of Stratum VB and monumental Stra-tum VA-IVB are very different. Nearly all “Canaanite” features disappear, and typical Iron Age II types are intro-duced. This pushes VA-IVB into the early 9th century. Moreover, the pot-tery assemblage from the Omride compound at Tel Jezreel is similar to that of Megiddo VA-IVB. Thus, the two sites were probably destroyed around the same time, in the mid-9th century. This traps Stratum VA-IVB into a narrow chronological slot, i.e., the first half of the 9th century. These issues involve the nature of the United Monarchy vis-à-vis monu-mental architecture and material cul-ture. They raise the question whether the United Monarchy was an expand-ing or a full-blown state; or alterna-tively, whether it was the northern state of Israel, after the breakdown of the United Monarchy, which was the first full-blown state. 
 The “Showdown” allowed adher-ents to the conventional wisdom and the challengers to meet and discuss the issues. Lawrence Stager of Harvard and William Dever of Arizona State defended the accepted chronology, and Ussishkin and Finkelstein argued for the new ideas. Ussishkin discussed the difficulty in reconciling the monumentalpalaces at Megiddo with the dearth of evidence from the United Monarchy in Jerusalem. Finkelstein presented his theory, with reference to Megiddo. The conference saw much vigorous debate among friends, but brought no verdict. We will have to wait for further exca-vation at the key site of the debate - Megiddo. 

                             Israel Finkelstein

and Jared Miller