7) The Conquest and Archaeology
Based on archaeology, scholars agree that there are minimal, almost none, traces of conquest in the 13th century BC Canaan. Archaeology has shown that there was no occurrence of massive conquest at that time. Moreover the fact that there was meagre or no occupation at those places recorded in the book of Joshua increase the doubt on the conquest data found in the OT.
In view of these threats to the historical reliability of the Bible, conservative scholars like Ian Provan, V. Philips Long, Tremper Longman III, and Kenneth Kitchen, recently, marched forth to defend the historicity of the OT. In their apologetics, however, they do not attempt to demonstrate the archaeological data or the assumed chronology to be false or even to question them. Rather, they argue around the data or by explaining them away.
For instance, Provan and his colleagues do not address the dating of the laws in Exodus and Deuteronomy, which is vital in their proposal for an early dating of Israel’s founding fathers. They do not even address the archaeological evidences that contradict the conquest narrative. Instead, they made a huge leap over these issues to discuss about the “misreading” of Joshua (2003:140). Their obvious reluctance to engage with the established archaeological facts do, though not necessarily, implies that the evident is hardly disputable.
The following part 7.a, 7.b, 7.c, and 7.d are the collection of archaeologists’ responses on the alleged sites which are recorded in the OT as being conquered by the Israelites.