Rugged Judean hill country surrounds Khirbet Nisya, bottom, right of center. Authors Bimson and Livingston suggest that this natural mound 11 miles north of Jerusalem may be the site of Biblical Ai. Most scholars identify nearby Khirbet et-Tell as Ai, although excavations there show that the site was unoccupied at the time of Joshua’s conquest as described in the Bible.

Bimson and Livingston observe that many of the cities said to have been conquered by the Israelites, including Ai, Jericho, Arad, Gibeon, Hebron and Hormah/Zephath did not exist at the time traditionally assigned to the Israelite Conquest of Canaan, about 1230–1220 B.C. This casts grave doubt, the authors argue, on the traditional dating. They would move the date of the conquest back 200 years, to about 1420 B.C.

Evidence found at Khirbet Nisya dated from the Middle Bronze II period, which is conventionally dated 1900–1550 B.C. The authors revise this period to end about 1420 B.C., the date they assign to the conquest.

The photos here show some of the artifacts found at Khirbet Nisya and other evidence that the authors marshall in support of their identification of the site as Ai.

Bronze dagger from the Middle Bronze II period

Clay juglet dating to the Persian period

Roman milestone

Pottery sherds

Narrow pass leading to the Wadi Suweinit