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Israel Finkelstein is an Israeli archaeologist and academic. He is currently the Jacob M. Alkow Professor of the Archaeology of Israel in the Bronze Age and Iron Ages at Tel Aviv Universitymarker and is also the co-director of excavations at Megiddomarker in northern Israelmarker. Previously, he served as Director of the Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University from 1996-2002. In 2005 he received the Dan David Prize.

Born in Petah Tikvamarker, he completed his studies at Tel Aviv University, writing his Ph.D. thesis on The Izbet Sartah excavations, for which he was also the Field Director.


Finkelstein is a leading authority on Middle Eastern archeology, specializing in the early history of Israel. Critical of an earlier generation of scholars who read the results of their excavations as confirming the biblical narratives of conquest, Finkelstein earned a reputation for being a "lightning rod" for controversy. In particular, his description of tenth century Jerusalem, the period associated with the Biblical Kings David and Solomon, as a mere 'village' or tribal center., has been the subject of considerable discussion and criticism. Though rejecting the ultra-minimalist position that places the composition of the Bible in the Persian or Greek period, i.e., after the return from the Babylonian exile, he still argues that much of the Bible was written from the seventh through the fifth century BCE Notwithstanding his dismissal of the literal approach to Biblical history, Finkelstein believes that 'New archaeological discoveries should not erode one's sense of tradition and identity'.

Finkelstein bases himself on a method called "low chronology," which suggests that archaeological problems in the traditional Levantine chronology are fixed by "lowering the date of 11th-century BCE assemblages to the early-to-mid 10th century, and 10th century BCE assemblages to the early 9th century, with the late Iron I/early Iron IIA transition fixed in the late 10th century BCE".


Together with Yuval Goren and Nadav Na'aman, Finkelstein has coordinated the mineralogical and chemical analysis of the Amarna tablets. He also co-authored, with Neil Asher Silberman, The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts.


Selected Publications

  • The Archaeology of the Israelite Settlement, Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1988.
  • The Archaeology of the United Monarchy: An Alternative View, Levant 28 (1996).
  • Living on the Fringe, 1995.
  • The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts, 2001, The Free Press, New York City, ISBN 0-684-86912-8.
  • David and Solomon: In Search of the Bible's Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition, 2006, ISBN 0-7432-4362-5.
  • The Quest for the Historical Israel:Debating Archeology and the History of Early Israel , 2007, Society of Biblical Literature, Atlanta, ISBN 978-1-58983-277-0.

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