In 1907 Drs. Stellin and
Watzinger began the first scientific excavation of Tell Es-Sultan
(Jericho) which was first excavated in modern times by Warren in 1868.
Although much was published just before the first world war especially
about the walls that had been discovered, nothing else was done about
the site until Professor Garstang of Liverpool University began
extensive work there in 1930.
Dr Garstang had been Director of the Department of Antiquities in
Palestine which had been set up under the British mandate and he
occupied this post from 1920-26 so that he already had considerable
knowledge of the area when he started his excavations four years later.
from the Air.
During his directorship he had walked the precise itinerary of the
army of Joshua and by this means had identified the sites of many of the
cities, the exact location of which had been long forgotten.
Dr. Garstang and his assistants examined over 100,000 potsherds from
the site of Jericho and from these he dated the destruction of the city
to the middle of the Late Bronze Age (c. 1400 BC in conventional dating)
which was in contradiction to the generally accepted date of the Exodus
and conquest which was then considered to be at the time of the 19th
Dynasty of Egypt some 200 years later. (Of course this was in complete
contradiction to the Biblical Account which put the Exodus 480 years
before the founding of the Temple of Solomon, i.e. around 1,450 BC ).
It was suggested that either his classification of the pottery was in
error or that there had been two Exodus events. Other suggestions
included the possibility that not all the Children of Israel had gone
into captivity. Any an all excuses were put forward to explain his
To the west of the main city which occupied only 12 acres, Garstang
found a complete necropolis which had remained completely unplundered.
Amongst the findings were 80 scarabs which bore cartouches of Egyptian
Kings the latest of whom was Amenhotep III (1413-1377 BC in conventional
dating). There was no evidence of burials after that date. This inspired
one of the financiers of the dig, Sir Charles Marston to write that
Jericho fell in the reign of Amenhotep III.
There is now so much controversy over what Garstang actually found
that it is safer from now on to use only his words, so we will quote
extensively from an article he wrote after four years of digging. (
Jericho and the Biblical Story in "Wonders of the Past" 1937).
It must be remembered that Professor Dr. John Garstang M.A., D.Sc.,
Hon LLD., F.S.A. was no amateur dilettante, but one of the most
respected scholars of his day. He wrote:-
"Four main epochs in its occupation (referring to Jericho)
are attested by that number of separate and successive periods of
fortification.........Even the rampart which was constructed in the
early bronze age can only be traced in intervals in deep soundings at a
depth of about 20ft..........The walls were Babylonian in
style.........This period of occupation is to be assigned to the last
centuries the third millennium BC say 2300-2000 BC and corresponds
therefore with the first Semitic Dynasty of Babylon, the remote age of
Hammurabi and Abraham (sic)............
The Identifications are conventional
"About 2000 BC the site of Jericho was enclosed by definitive
defensive ramparts comprising a stout wall of brick 12-14ft in thickness
supported by an inner screen in front.........The area of the city was
only about 8 acres.......The city gateway was narrow and near the spring
(Now called Elisha's Fountain M.S.S.) and both these features
were dominated by a massive guard-house, 60ft by 30ft containing three
rooms in the line of the city walls."
"About 1800 BC, A DATE DEPENDING ULTIMATELY UPON EGYPTIAN
CHRONOLOGY, the city of Jericho was re-fortified upon a more ample
scale..............The area of Jericho now attained its maximum of about
12 acres. From the standpoint of military architecture the defensive
works of Jericho at this time were unparalleled comprising the three
fold principal of glacis, parapet and outer fosse.
The expansion and elaborate fortification of the city at this time
indicates a period of relative prosperity and the suggestion is borne
out by numerous 'finds" both in the city and the necropolis. The art is
that of the Hyksos period during which Egypt herself was
Names of Hyksos leaders are found upon seals both in the tombs and
the palace area of the city suggested that some of these personages both
resided and died there............. A vast complex of store rooms came
into being at that time...........68 such store rooms were examines
layer by layer down to their foundations...............Quite a number of
the jars had been sealed after the fashion of the age, in the name of
Hyksos chieftains........ The whole system was destroyed 1600 BC by a
general conflagration, an event which seemed to coincide with the
demolition of the cities ramparts, though the evidence as to the date of
the latter case is not so complete as to warrant a definite
conclusion.........Further extensive damage was done by a landslide,
originating presumably in an earthquake which broke one of the main
walls in two and brought the brickwork of this and other walls toppling
down in large masses.
"This disaster was accompanied also by local fires which completely
charred and cracked the bricks and the contents of the surviving
of the debris of ages has revealed the remains in Jericho of
walls that are tilted forward, deeply fissured and dislocated.
In all likely hood, these are the ramparts that collapsed,
probably as the result of an earthquake shock, just before the
onset of the Israelites under Joshua.
"The tombs of the Hyksos period were the most numerous and complete
in the whole necropolis......Putting the evidence from the necropolis by
the side of the discoveries of the city, we conclude the latter was
captured and its fortifications dismantled at the close of the Hyksos
period i.e. soon after 1600 BC but that it was soon restored and a local
dynasty reinstated as a vassal of Imperial Pharaohs. This state of
things endured uninterruptedly until the earthquake at the end of the
16th century involved a reconstruction of the buildings and as it were
ushered in a new archaeological period, that is of the late bronze age
(c 1500 BC.......conventional dating).
"We come now to the last phase in the history of Bronze Age
Jericho. The buildings of this period in the palace area and their
contents are found to have been consumed by an intense conflagration
which has left them embedded in a knee deep deposit of white ash covered
by blackened debris..... Happily again the evidence from the tombs as
regards this period is complete and satisfactory. The 15th century BC is
represented by hundreds of intact specimens; their stratification is
undisturbed and their continuity is attested by the discovery at
appropriate levels of further Royal scarabs, notably one of Thuthmose
III, the successor of Queen Hatshepsut in tomb 5 and two of Amenhotep
III in tomb 4............the last names Pharaoh ruled from about
1411-1375 (conventional chronology) and with his reign the
deposits in the tombs and the city alike come to an abrupt end.
"Only a handful of specimens represent the ensuing centuries in vivid
contrast to the full series of 1,851 pottery objects and 160 scarabs
which cover the period of time from the beginning of the Hyksos period
down to this Pharaohs reign. It is then established that the normal life
of the city of Jericho and the parallel use of the tombs in the
adjoining necropolis ceased utterly around 1400 BC (conventional
"As to the nature of the collapse of the walls and the probable
cause of the catastrophe, the indications are fairly clear..........The
indications are those of earthquake and it would be difficult to find
any other explanation to account for a catastrophe on so large a
"We reach then the following conclusions;
a) The city perished while in active occupation.
b) Buildings and their contents were consumed by fire of exceptional
c) The Ramparts fell at the same time as the adjacent houses and the
state of their ruins points to earthquakes.
d) The date of the fall of Jericho was about 1400 BC
So in spite of the doubters and the critics, the most eminent
archaeologist of his day had shown the Biblical account of the Conquest
of Jericho to be accurate.
And so things stood for twenty years until Dame Kathleen Kenyon came
along and destroyed the illusion and in so doing inadvertently confirmed
the revised chronology and the exact scenario as laid down by the
We will see how next week........
Michael S. Sanders
Irvine Feb. 1998