“Moreover [Kathleen] Kenyon showed beyond doubt that in the mid-late 13th century BC- the time period now required for any Israelite “conquest”- Jericho lay completely abandoned. There is not so much as a Late Bronze II potsherd of that period on the entire site. This seems a blow to the biblical account indeed.” (Dever, 2003:46)
7.b) Ai (a.k.a et-Tell)
French archaeologist Judith Marquet-Krause “brought to light a massively fortified Early Bronze Age city-state, with monumental temples and palaces, all destroyed sometime around 2200 BC. After scant reoccupation in the early 2nd millennium BC, ‘Ai appears to have been entirely deserted from ca. 1500 BC until sometime in the early 12th century BC. Thus it would have been nothing more than ruins in the late 13th century BC- that is, at the time of the alleged Israelite conquest.” (Dever, 2003:47; similar account in Finkelstein & Silberman, 2001:82)
“Between 1965 – 1972 Joseph Callaway, an American archaeologist and Southern Baptist Theological professor…confirmed Marquet-Krause’s results beyond doubt. To his credit, he acknowledged the excavations of Ai as a major blow to the “conquest theory”.” (Dever, 2003:47-48)
7.c) Other Interpretations on the Archaeological Data of Jericho and Ai.
Kenneth Kitchen responds to Kathleen Kenyon’s conclusion (that there is no indication that Jericho was being occupied in the 13th century BCE) by appealing to “erosion” (2003:187).
Provan and colleagues follow Kitchen and Amihai Mazar in their appeal to “erosion” for the absence of evidence in Jericho and “misidentification” on the excavated Ai (2003:176). Satterthwaite and McConville sympathize with these arguments (2007:67).
But these suggestions to explain away the archaeological data are typical examples of ‘argument from silent’ if not explaining them away. And note that such argument cannot be any louder than ‘silence’.
Kitchen went further to explain away the evidence of non-occupancy in Ai (Josh 7.2-8.29, 12.9). When he sees that the archaeological site for Ai does not support the conquest story, he responds, “there might well be another site of a similar kind that does, yet to be found”(2003:189). I think such rhetoric is likely to be seen as saying that the ‘theory of everything’ exists, just that it is not yet been discovered.
Overall, it seems that there are no substantial objections against these archaeological data of Jericho and Ai.