Garstang’s chosen site could not be Ai. Did not burn at any approximate time related to Joshua’s account, or was not inhabited at the relevant time, etc. So the conclusion they came to was “the Bible is not true at worst, unreliable at best.”
Actually, that was their thought before they inserted a shovel. So it was hardly a conclusion.
ABR’s leadership used the Bible alone for locating the place of the real Ai. Shown here in an unlikely swag between two small rises, it is called by the locals Khirbet (meaning “ruins”) el-Maqatir.
On the hill above the 2 1/2 acre fortress ruins was the ruins of a Byzantine monastery. (ABR was asked to dig there also by the Israeli Antiquities Authority.
Saint Helena, mother of Constantine, the first Christian emperor of Rome, seems to have established most of the Byzantine era monasteries—and there are many.
We were told after her son Constantine became the first Christian emperor, she travelled
throughout the Holy Land seeking sites where Jesus’ miracles and major events took place. She interviewed the locals for their community memory of what took place approximately 300 years earlier.
Archaeologists still acknowledge her findings as reliable information. Sometimes they find mosaic floors that commemorate what happened in that place.
By God’s grace alone, the unlikely and hard-to-get-to spot called Khirbet el-Maqatir had not been built upon in the last several centuries; therefore, it was still available for archaeological discovery. (Evidently, present day building sites in Israel are always surveyed with antiquities in mind before construction begins. I guess it is now built into the Israeli process. Not so much care seems to be given to antiquities by the Palestinians.)
In this case, ABR has uncovered significant and convincing information indicating the site is both the ancient ruins of the Canaanite city of Ai AND a first-century (at the time of Jesus) town destroyed by the Roman army in 69 A.D. Just before the fall of Jerusalem.
One striking find from the first century was a domed room with olive press and paraphernalia. In the middle of the room were 7-8 skeletons. (I’m telling this from memory.)
Such drama. Such amazing finds. Awesome. And we were such a small piece of this process of discovery. It was the adventure of our lives.
And we are very excited to see the exhibit in Pikeville, KT and hear Dr. Scott Stripling at the Conference in October: 10:00-10:45 – “Murder at Maqatir: The Grim Fate of those who hid from the Romans”.