Biblical Archaeology Review 30:6, November/December 2004

Debate: In This Corner: William Dever and Israel Finkelstein Debate the Early History of Israel

By Hershel Shanks

Biblical Archaeology Review

“Israel Finkelstein has achieved an archaeological first. To my knowledge, there is no precedent in the entire literature of our field for such a full-scale attack on a senior colleague and his life’s work.”

So begins William Dever’s response to an article in the archaeological journal Tel Aviv by Israel Finkelstein entitled “Gezer Revisited and Revised.” The excavation of Gezer is Dever’s proudest archaeological accomplishment. Dever originally called his response to Finkelstein, published in the same journal, “Gezer Reviled,” but was persuaded to change it to the less flamboyant, “Visiting the Real Gezer: A Reply to Israel Finkelstein.”1

Dever and Finkelstein are both giants in their field. For years Dever served as director of the American Schools of Oriental Research in Jerusalem (now the William F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research). Before that, he taught at Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem. He is probably more prolific than any other American archaeologist digging in the Near East. And the jewel in his archaeological crown is the excavation of Tel Gezer from 1964 to 1974, surely the most important American dig of its time.2

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