A silent tell masks the tumultuous history of Biblical Beth-Shemesh, located on the frequently shifting border of Judah. Hoping to penetrate the “inner mystery” of the tell, Scotsman Duncan Mackenzie initiated the first expedition to the site in 1911. Elihu Grant of Haverford College followed him in 1928. Grant identified six major occupational levels of the city, which flourished from the Middle Bronze Age (2200–1550 B.C.E.) through the Iron Age (1200–586 B.C.E.).
Authors Shlomo Bunimovitz and Zvi Lederman continue to probe the tell today. Although the Bible identifies Beth-Shemesh as Israelite during the period of the Judges (Joshua 19:41), the excavators have uncovered a puzzling array of Canaanite, Israelite and Philistine artifacts that suggest considerable political and cultural interaction.