Israel Finkelstein

Israel Finkelstein

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Israel Finkelstein is an Israeli archaeologist
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

 and academic. He is currently the Jacob M. Alkow Professor of the Archaeology of Israel in the Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 and Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

s at Tel Aviv University
Tel Aviv University
Tel Aviv University is a public university located in Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel. With nearly 30,000 students, TAU is Israel's largest university.-History:...

 and is also the co-director of excavations at Megiddo in northern Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

. Previously, he served as Director of the Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University from 1996-2002. In 2005 he received the Dan David Prize
Dan David Prize
The Dan David Prize annually awards 3 prizes of $1 million each awarded by the Dan David Foundation and Tel Aviv University to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution in the fields of science, technology, culture or social welfare. There are three prize categories - past, present and...


Born in Petah Tikva
Petah Tikva
Petah Tikva known as Em HaMoshavot , is a city in the Center District of Israel, east of Tel Aviv.According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, at the end of 2009, the city's population stood at 209,600. The population density is approximately...

, he completed his studies at Tel Aviv University, writing his Ph.D. thesis on The Izbet Sartah excavations, for which he was also the Field Director.

Historical and Archaeological Work

Finkelstein specializes in Middle Eastern archaeology of the ancient history of the Land of Israel
Land of Israel
The Land of Israel is the Biblical name for the territory roughly corresponding to the area encompassed by the Southern Levant, also known as Canaan and Palestine, Promised Land and Holy Land. The belief that the area is a God-given homeland of the Jewish people is based on the narrative of the...

. Critical of an earlier generation of scholars who read the results of their excavations as confirming the biblical narratives of conquest, Finkelstein earned a reputation for being a "lightning rod" for controversy. In particular, his description of 10th century BCE Jerusalem, the period associated with the biblical kings David and Solomon
Solomon , according to the Book of Kings and the Book of Chronicles, a King of Israel and according to the Talmud one of the 48 prophets, is identified as the son of David, also called Jedidiah in 2 Samuel 12:25, and is described as the third king of the United Monarchy, and the final king before...

, as a mere 'village' or tribal center, has been the subject of considerable discussion and criticism.

Though rejecting the ultra-minimalist position that places the composition of the Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 in the Persian or Greek
Hellenistic Greece
In the context of Ancient Greek art, architecture, and culture, Hellenistic Greece corresponds to the period between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the annexation of the classical Greek heartlands by Rome in 146 BC...

 period, i.e., after the return from the Babylonian exile, he argues that much of the Bible was written from the seventh through the fifth century BCE Notwithstanding his dismissal of the literal approach to Biblical history, Finkelstein believes that 'New archaeological discoveries should not erode one's sense of tradition and identity'.

Finkelstein is a proponent of the "low chronology," an archaeological reconstruction that attempts to solve problems in the traditional Levantine chronology by "lowering the date of 11th-century BCE assemblages to the early-to-mid 10th century, and 10th century BCE assemblages to the early 9th century, with the late Iron I/early Iron IIA transition fixed in the late 10th century BCE".


Together with Yuval Goren and Nadav Na'aman, Finkelstein has coordinated the mineralogical and chemical analysis of the Amarna tablets. He also co-authored, with Neil Asher Silberman
Neil Asher Silberman
Neil Asher Silberman is an archaeologist and historian with a special interest in history, archaeology, public interpretation and heritage policy. He is a graduate of Wesleyan University and was trained in Near Eastern archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem...

, The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts
The Bible Unearthed
The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts is a 2001 book about the archaeology of Israel and its relationship to the origins of the Hebrew Bible...


Selected publications

  • The Archaeology of the Israelite Settlement, Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1988.
  • The Archaeology of the United Monarchy: An Alternative View, Levant 28 (1996).
  • The Bible Unearthed
    The Bible Unearthed
    The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts is a 2001 book about the archaeology of Israel and its relationship to the origins of the Hebrew Bible...

    : Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts
    , 2001, The Free Press, New York City, ISBN 0-684-86912-8.
  • David and Solomon: In Search of the Bible's Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition, 2006, ISBN 0-7432-4362-5.
  • The Quest for the Historical Israel: Debating Archeology and the History of Early Israel, 2007, Society of Biblical Literature, Atlanta, ISBN 978-1-58983-277-0.

External links