(Translated from Hebrew)
Is it possible that a gross error is so deeply entrenched in the archaeology of the Holy Land, that most scientists - including some of the world’s greatest - are not even aware of it?

In the following pages I will set forth my contention that the customary method of dating ancient archaeological strata in Eretz Israel was based on an error of the order of several hundreds of years. As a result of this error, researchers seek the traces of ancient Israelite civilization in layers from times much later than the biblical era; they look for the traces of the Settlement period in layers that are from the time of the Return to Zion; they try to find remnants of King Solomon’s magnificent structures in a period only three hundred years earlier than Judah the Maccabee; and they search for the destruction of the kingdom of Judah among ruins and devastation left by the many terrible wars waged between the Ptolemaic and Seleucid kings.

My contention is extreme and far-reaching, but can be put to an immediate test: if it is indeed true, we can expect to find that as a result of the error, the historical picture emerging from archaeological discoveries will differ in a number of significant details from the evidence found in the Bible.
Not many people are aware of the fact that archaeologists and historians have found it quite difficult to establish a link between scriptural accounts and archaeological finds. Moreover, many archaeological discoveries in the Holy Land are in total contradiction to the biblical testimony. It would seem, for example, that the Israelites did not conquer the Land of Canaan at all, since the Canaanite cities mentioned in the Bible were destroyed hundreds of years before the Exodus from Egypt; that the Israelites occupied Canaan (in the opinion of most scholars) in a slow and peaceful way; that there has been no material confirmation whatever of the wealth and luxury which prevailed, according to the Bible, during the days of David and Solomon; and most perplexing of all, that a period of three hundred years - from the Return to Zion until the Hasmonean times - appears to be missing from the stratification in the country.

When archaeological finds do not conform to scriptural evidence, scholars prefer to put their faith in what they can see rather than in the ancient sources, whose historical reliability is often controversial. It is no great wonder, therefore, that researchers minimize the historical value of the Bible and view it principally as a book bearing a socio-religious message, the creation of later generations.

Dating ancient strata is a basic element of archaeology. In the first chapters of this book I will show how a serious error was incorporated into the very foundations of archaeology in the Holy Land. I will also pinpoint the origin of this error and tell of the scholar who first exposed it. Later, I will suggest an alternative dating method and explain the principles and theory that led me to this method.

The book is mainly devoted to reassessment of archaeological discoveries in the Holy Land, comparing them with the stories in the Bible. I intend to show that remains of the biblical era are concealed in strata much older than those ascribed to them at present. In my opinion, almost every place that archaeologists have thrust their spades, they have unknowingly revealed remnants of the Jewish people’s past as described in the scriptures. Archaeological evidence exists for the account of the terrible famine in the time of the Patriarchs; the Sinai Peninsula is strewn with traces of the material culture from the period of the Israelite wanderings in the wilderness; the collapsed walls of ancient Jericho - conquered by those who left Egypt - have been discovered in the excavations at nearby Tell es-Sultan; numerous remains of the magnificent buildings from the time of the First Temple - some erected by King Solomon himself - have been found in and around Jerusalem.

By using alternative dating of strata, we can even lay bare one of the most obscure periods in the country’s history: the Return to Zion. Now, for the first time, it is possible to follow the various stages in the renewal of Jewish life in Eretz Israel after the destruction of the First Temple, and to understand the origins of the Hasmonean state.

Every change in dating strata has far-reaching implications in many areas of science which touch upon archaeology. The controversy surrounding chronology in the Holy Land relates not only to archaeology itself, but concerns everyone interested in the history of the Jewish people in Eretz Israel. For this reason, I decided to avoid (as far as possible) a didactic archaeological-scientific style and long, complicated technical discussions. I have also kept footnotes down to a minimum. What I tried to do was present to the general reader ideas and positions current in modern research, in order to provide a yardstick by which to judge the alternative method that I am proposing. Bear in mind, however, that my opinion is biased. It is almost impossible to be so involved in an issue and yet offer conflicting ideas fairly and accurately. Any interested reader can delve more deeply into the subject by perusing the extensive literature that is readily available today.

My readers will have to alternate in their minds between two divergent and contradictory archaeological-historical systems. While this maneuver may be confusing at first to those who are unaccustomed to it, I trust that in the course of reading, they will adjust to these mental “acrobatics” and manage them effortlessly. They can refer to the Comparative Table between Traditional and Alternative Dating of Strata which shows in easily readable detail the ancient stratification in the Holy Land, with both the traditional and the alternative methods of dating. For the reader’s convenience, I have also included at the beginning of the book a chapter explaining some principles of archaeology, as well as the method by which various strata are dated.

The discussion in this book follows two parallel and complementary paths: archaeology and the Bible. While many are unfamiliar with the field of archaeology, most people have been exposed to the Bible from an early age. The Book of Books is deeply stamped on our consciousness and our attitude toward it springs from many diverse sources. Very often we decide our positions on a variety of subjects - knowingly or otherwise - by our biblical traditions. In any research which touches on the Bible there is always a fear that scholars may lose their objectivity and shape the work to fit their philosophies. I have tried as much as possible to avoid this pitfall.

A major portion of my work involves comparing biblical testimony with archaeological data. From a purely technical standpoint, I compare a biblical text to archaeological texts. I have tried to be neutral, giving both sides equal attention. In the course of the book I hope to instil in the reader the same feelings of wonder and excitement that filled me as I gradually realized that in almost every case where the archaeological find could be compared to the biblical testimony there is surprising agreement between them. To me, this was an astounding discovery. When I first began my research I believed, as so many others do, that the Bible encompasses only a kernel of historical truth. And yet, as I discovered the correspondence between scriptural stories and material evidence, I began to have some doubts. I now believe that the Bible is more historically reliable than is generally accepted today. Nevertheless, having reached this conclusion, I do not presume to decide the boundaries between reality and fiction or between faith and historical truth in the Bible.