The location of Joshua's Ai has been a matter of mystery and controversy since the beginnings of archaeological research in Israel. Scholars have concluded that the location of Joshua’s Ai is at et-Tell. They have also used this conclusion to discredit the Biblical account of Joshua 7-8 because there is no evidence of occupation at et-Tell during the time of Joshua. We believe we have now collected enough geographic, historical and archaeological evidence to demonstrate that Khirbet el-Maqatir is the Ai of Joshua.
The discoveries include a rare 15th century BC Egyptian scarab (shown right), a Late Bronze I city gate and wall system, large amounts of pottery from the time of Joshua, remains from the Judges period, evidence of destruction by fire, ancient coins, a first century AD city/town, and a Byzantine monastery. We believe that as further evidence emerges as a result of the sound archaeological, historical and geographical research by ABR volunteers and staff, the biblical account will continue to be vindicated.
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Since 2010, excavations have gone far beyond the Joshua era material. As the city from the time of Jesus has begun to emerge from beneath two meters of accumulated debris, the finds have been stunning. After drawing the fortification system in May 2014, Maqatir excavation architect, Dr. Leen Ritmeyer, insisted that the settlement should no longer be viewed as a village, rather as a city. It appears that he is correct. We suggest that this city may in fact be Ephraim mentioned in John 11:53-54:
“Then, from that day on, they plotted to put Him to death. Therefore Jesus no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there into the country near the wilderness, to a city called Ephraim, and there remained with His disciples.”
Dr. Stripling's article making this identification appeared in the Fall 2014 issue of Bible and Spade. Click here to read a copy of this article entitled "Have We Walked in the Footsteps of Jesus? Exciting New Possibilities at Khirbet el-Maqatir." Subscribe to Bible and Spade. Volunteers have the amazing opportunity to excavate through a New Testament city in order to continue revealing an Old Testament city.
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- Is the Bible wrong about the city of Ai in Joshua 7-8?
- Background material for further study and research on Joshua 7-8.