BAR 11:02, Mar/Apr 1985
Was My Excavation of Ai Worthwhile?
Two very important issues in Professor Zevits paper need further comment: First, he is right in concluding that archaeology has wiped out the historical credibility of the conquest of Ai as reported in Joshua 78. The Joint Expedition to Ai worked nine seasons between 1964 and 1976 and spent nearly $200,000, only to eliminate the historical underpinning of the Ai account in the Bible.
Was the undertaking worthwhile? Instead of finding neat answers to the questions that have been raised about the Israelite conquest account for the last half-century, we are confronted with the ultimate question: Did the Biblical writers simply create a story in Joshua 78? In Zevits words, is it an account that is historically not true? Many readers will no doubt instinctively respond, Say it isnt so, archaeology! So I ask, was our excavation worthwhile?