Since 1995 when he argued that the date of the Philistine’s settlement be down-dated to late 12th century BCE rather than the early, Israel Finkelstein tried to make strata of ancient sites formerly dated to 11th century BCE lowered to 10th, 10th to 9th. The significant change in understanding the feature of the past is found in the period of the socalled “United Kingdom.” Strata formerly dated to 11th century BCE which were poorly settled: no fortification, no public building, no administrative building, etc., are now understood as those of King David and Solomon.
This paper aims to examine Finkelstein’s “Low Chronology” and to critically evaluate it. It tried to understand his “Low Chronology” in six different phases, to see how it academically developed in each phase and what were the scholars’ debates in the process. This paper argued that “Low Chronology” be seriously criticized in six main archaeological issues: (1) The recent excavation results from Tel Ashkelon lead to the conclusion that the Philistines’ settlement occurred in the early 12th century BCE; (2) if strata formerly dated to 12th century BCE are down-dated and if strata destroyed by the Assyrians at the end of the 8th century BCE are fixed, strata from 12th to 8th century BCE are too much condensed leaving 25-30 settlement years for a fortified city, which is archaeologically unreasonable; (3) the fact that pottery types from stratigraphic sequence, such as Tel Rehov strata VI, V and IV, traditionally dated to 10th and 9th centuries BCE, do not display sharp change, refutes the argument to lower the date of Tel Megiddo VA-IVB (traditionally dated to 10th century BCE) to 9th century BCE based on “somewhat similarity” in pottery types with Tel Jezreel’s (representative 9th century site); (4) the Shishak’s campaign known from historical, archaeological, and biblical sources, occurred in the end of 10th century BCE and could be an historical anchor to separate 10th from 9th century BCE. Destruction layers in some sites, such as Tel Gezer VIII, Tel Taanach IIB, Tel Megiddo VA-IVB, Tel Beth Shean S-1, Tel Rehov V, etc., are possibly attributed to this campaign. In addition, according to Shishak’s relief in Luxor, he sent his army to the Negev and listed seventy conquered sites. The fifty fortresses or forts, archaeologically known in the region and formerly dated to 10th century BCE, are connected with this event; (5) the recent results of radiocarbon dating from some sites, fit to the traditional date rather than Finkelstein’s “Low Chronology”; (6) the archaeological and epigraphic evidences from Khirbet Qeiyafa and City of David are against Finkelstein’s assertion that there was no adminstration in the 10th century BCE in Judah.