Biblical Archaeology Review 24:2, March/April 1998

Where Is the Tenth Century?

By Hershel Shanks

Every archaeologist thinks his or her site holds the key to any issue that arises. Perhaps that is one reason why the focus was on Megiddo at the sessions titled “Where Is the Tenth Century?” at the Annual Meeting. Archaeologists David Ussishkin and Israel Finkelstein, the first two speakers, are codirectors of the renewed excavations at Megiddo. This is not to deny the importance of Megiddo, however; it is indeed a key site. As Finkelstein has written, “The archaeology of the United Monarchy was born at Megiddo.”1 A second site, whose key significance is more debatable, is Jezreel, where Ussishkin is also codirector (with British archaeologist John Woodhead).

For students of the Bible, the tenth century (B.C., of course) is especially important because that was the time of King David and King Solomon, the short period when ancient Israel was united under a single monarch. (David reigned from about 1000 B.C. to 960; Solomon, his son, from about 960 to 920 B.C.) If we want to know what archaeology can tell us about this period, we have to know which archaeological discoveries—architecture, artifacts and other finds—date from the tenth century.

Until recently, we thought we knew. Now it is a matter of fierce debate.a

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