The Search for Joshua's Ai: The Excavations at Khirbet el-Maqatir 2010

Date: 5/19/2010-6/6/2010
Time: All Day
Location: Israel
File: maqatir slide show online 2009 versionc.ppt






The location of Joshua's Ai has been a matter of mystery and controversy since the beginnings of archaeological research in Palestine. Most archaeologists locate Joshua's Ai at et-Tell, .6 miles east of our site. At et-Tell there is no indication of occupation at the time of Joshua (see map on slide show). This has led scholars to doubt the historicity of the account of the capture of Ai, and the Conquest in general. This excavation wil be conducted under the direction of ABR Director of Research, Dr. Bryant Wood. Topography, fortifications, and pottery finds all suggest that Kh. el-Maqatir is a candidate for the Ai of Joshua 7-8. This is an enormously important apologetic project that is critical in defending the historical reliability of the Bible in this age of rampant skepticism. 

To find the true site where the Biblical event took place would be a very significant and important discovery, having far-reaching implications for a correct understanding of the early history of Israel. Excavations at Khirbet el-Maqatir began in 1995. Thus far, the city gate and wall system have been revealed. In 2010, we hope to continue to excavate these features as we uncover the plan of this 15th century BC Canaanite fortress.

ABR excavated at Khirbet el-Maqatir from 1995 to 2000. Since then, ABR returned in 2009 and continued our original research and excavation work in Israel. Since the dig has been approved, we ask for you to pray for God to continue open the doors so we may be optimally productive in doing this important begun at the site in 1995.


The 2009 Excavation Team at Khirbet el-Maqatir.

View a Slide Show of Pictures from The 2009 Excavation at Khirbet el-Maqatir    

Travel Details:

1. Price for this once in a lifetime excavation experience is $3499, from the USA (includes flight, no tour). ABR ARRANGED FLIGHTS ARE NO LONGER AVAILABLE as March 29, 2010.

2. Travelers wishing to make their own flight arrangements to Israel may join the trip. The full GROUND ONLY (May 19-June 6) price for this trip is $2199 (no tour, own flight). Partial trips can be priced on an individual basis. Travelers who join the group on a ground only or partial basis are responsible for their own travel arrangements, including flight and transport to and from the airport. Deadline April 30, 2010.

3. A "pre-dig" optional touring package (May 19-23) for 2010 is NOW CLOSED for registration.

a. The touring schedule for the weekend of May 29-30 is still open. The cost for the tour is $250. Please see itinerary below. Deadline April 30, 2010.

4. A $500 deposit is required immediately to reserve your space on this trip. First come, first serve. 


a. DIG ONLY payments are due IMMEDIATELY on a first come, first serve basis IN FULL. This is for folks who are not on the pre-dig tour, but flying with the ABR group OR making their own flight arrangements. Deposits will be accepted after this date if hotel rooms are available. Please check with us for availability. We highly recommend sending in your deposit asap.

b. Final payment for group travelers booking a flight with ABR AND/OR tour participants is due by NOON April 15, 2010. This is for travelers who are booking a flight with ABR, and/or going on the tour.

c. For those making their own flight arrangements AND not touring, full DIG payment is due NOON April 30, 2010.

d. Upon receipt of deposit, travelers will receive paperwork that requires immediate attention. All travelers will also receive a free copy of Dr. Wood's presentation on DVD, Finding the Lost City of Ai: Joshua 7-8, explaining the background and evidence pertaining to the location of Joshua's Ai.

5. While digging, we will be staying at a Christian/Messianic Jewish moshav, Yad Hashmona, near Abu Ghosh.  It is located about 8 miles west of the old city of Jerusalem in the Judean hills.  The moshav was started by Finnish Christian immigrants, who were later joined by Messianic believers.  It is in a secure area, isolated from the potential trouble spots, and yet close enough to Jerusalem for easy access to the many attractions there.

6. Safety is of primary importance on this excavation. The Israeli Antiquities Authority has reviewed the situation locally, and determined that it is safe for ABR to dig at the site. Previous experience has shown that the locals are very friendly and helpful to ABR staff and volunteers. Security guards will be required and provided by ABR at the site.

7. No single rooms are available for the dig portion of the trip.

8. We STRONGLY RECOMMENDED the purchase of travelers insurance in the event of a family emergency, illness, etc. ABR CANNOT GUARANTEE THE RECOVERY OF ANY MONIES PAID FOR THE TRIP!

9. All Travelers MUST have Medical Insurance coverage for this trip. ABR cannot and will not be responsible in any way for any hospital or doctor visits or ambulance transport needed by travelers, whether the result of sickness or injury. MEDICARE IS NOT ACCEPTED OUTSIDE THE US!

10. We strongly recommend Medical Evacuation insurance as well, in case a traveler need to be transported to the US. Without insurance, this could cost more than $50K.

11. No visa is required if you are traveling from an APPROVED country and are staying less than 90 days. If you have other plans, please visit the Israeli Embassy website here:

12. Passport must have an expiration date that expires SIX MONTHS beyond your last intended day of stay in Israel. For purposes of the ABR trip, your passport must have an expiration date that postdates December 6, 2010.  

13. Yad Hashmonah has wireless internet access in most of the rooms, as well as a public computer in the lobby. It does not have a swimming pool.

14. The monies paid toward the Maqatir excavation are not considered a donation to ABR. However, because you are providing volunteer work for ABR, all expenses related to that work may be deductible as expenses for volunteer work for a non-profit ministry. This does not include any touring. Please consult a tax professional for advice.

15. To pay your deposit online or make your payment, please follow these instructions:

Secure Donation Page:

a. In the ONE TIME GIFT field, click on OTHER and enter the proper dollar amount.
b. Then, under SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS, type:  PAYMENT-DEPOSIT FOR MAQATIR DIG 2010, per Henry Smith.
c. Fill out the rest of the form. You will make your payment through PayPal. You do not need a PayPal account. You can use your CC through PayPal.

ABR arranged flight information: All times local at time of arrival and departure.

Continental Airlines Flight 084, Departing Newark US May 19, 2010: 4:05 PM. Arriving 9:35 AM in Tel Aviv May 20.

Continental Airlines Flight 091, Departing Tel Aviv, Israel June 5, 2010, 11:50 PM. Arrive 4:45 AM Newark June 6.

Schedule : Subject to change without notice.

Wednesday May 19:  Depart from the USA.

Thursday May 20- Sunday May 23:  Optional touring package. See below.

Monday May 24- Friday May 28:  Dig at Khirbet el-Maqatir. 

Saturday May 29 - Sunday May 30: Optional Touring Package. See below.

Monday May 31- Friday June 4:  Dig at Khirbet el-Maqatir.

Saturday June 5: Free Time, Depart around midnight for USA. 

Daily Dig Schedule

4:30 AM         Breakfast
4:45 AM         Load Bus

5:00 AM         Depart for Site
6:00 AM         Start Digging
10:30 AM       Lunch
2 PM              Leave Site
3 PM              Pottery Washing
4:30-6PM       Rest, Free Time
6PM               Dinner
7-8 PM           Evening Meeting

Lecture Schedule          

Sunday, May 23—Orientation and Recording System (Byers/Wood)
Monday, May 24—The Archaeological Ages and Biblical History (Wood)
Tuesday, May 25—Before They Were Sherds: Pottery Making and Use in Bible Times (Wood)
Wednesday, May 26—Pottery Typology and You (Wood/Byers)
Thursday, May 27—Rise and Fall of the Thirteenth Century Conquest Theory (Wood)
Friday, May 28— Everyday Life in Bible Times: The Iron I Period (Byers)
Monday, May 31—The Date and Political Background of the Conquest (Wood)
Tuesday, June 1—Digging Up the Truth at Jericho (Wood)
Wednesday, June 2—In Search of the Lost City of Ai: Topography and Archaeology (Wood)
Thursday, June 3—Israel in the Late Bronze II Period (Wood)
Friday, June 4—Debriefing (Byers/Wood)

Tour Schedule-Subject to change without notice

Thursday May 20, 2010: Arrive with Group from USA early pm. Transport by bus to Netanya for overnight stay at Seasons on the Sea Hotel on the Mediterranean. Dinner at hotel. Go for an optional swim in the Med Sea!

Friday May 21, 2010: Breakfast and check out. Depart from Netanya by 8am. After breakfast we begin our exploration of the Holy Land.  We begin at Caesarea by the Sea on the Mediterranean coastline. It was here that Cornelius the Centurion and his household were saved and baptized and here Paul made his defense before Festus and King Agrippa prior to his final journey to Rome. We see the Roman Aqueduct before continuing on to Mt. Carmel, where Elijah prayed down the fire from Heaven and defeated the 450 prophets of Baal.  Next we visit Megiddo and the Valley of Armageddon.  From here we can also see Mt. Gilboa where King Saul and his sons lost their lives against the Philistines and Mt. Tabor where Barak awaited Sisera.  We see the traditional site of the transfiguration.  Pass through Cana where Christ performed His first miracle and Nazareth, the boyhood home of Jesus. Arrive in the Galilee area for dinner and overnight.  Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner included.

Saturday May 22, 2010: We start early today on a long day of exploration and enlightenment exploring the upper Galilee area.  Our day includes a nature walk at Tel Dan, visiting the high place where Jeroboam, son of Nebat, Caesarea Philippi (Banias), where Peter answered Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?” We also see the Beit Alfa Synagogue, constructed in the fifth century and climb the Arbel cliff for a spectacular view of the Lake of Galilee and the main sites of Jesus’ ministry. Breakfast/Dinner included. Lunch not included.

Sunday May 23, 2010: We check out of our hotel this morning for another full day of touring.  We drive along the shores of the lake, passing the area of Magdala, home of Mary Magdalene. We enter the 2,000 year old remains of Capernaum  and stand in what is left of the synagogue in which our Lord ministered. We visit the traditional site where Jesus preached His Sermon on the Mount, Tabgha commemorating the feeding of the 5,000, and Mensa Christi where the Lord appeared to the disciples after the resurrection.  Our day also includes a visit to the Tel of Bet Shean where the bodies of King Saul and his sons hung from the city gates.  Our day ends as we arrive at Yad Hashmonah. Breakfast included. Lunch not included. Dinner at Yad Hashmonah. Meet with group at 7pm for Dig Orientation.

Saturday May 29, 2010: Dead Sea Region, Ein Gedi, Qumran, Jericho, and Masada. Breakfast only at Yad Hashmonah.

Sunday May 30, 2010: Jerusalem. Breakfast and Dinner at Yad Hashmonah.

Contact: Send an email to if you would like to receive regular updates on the Khirbet el-Maqatir Excavations or if you have questions about the dig, including request for partial trips. Paperwork for deposits and other requirements can be sent by USPS or email. ABR will send you a packet of information about the dig upon request.


Research and Background information:


Reports from the 2009 Excavation Season:

ABR’s 2009 Excavation at Khirbet el-Maqatir: The Infant Jar Burial

The ABR Excavation at Khirbet el-Maqatir: Review of Past Work and Report on the 2009 Season

Update from Khirbet el-Maqatir Week Two

Update from Khirbet el-Maqatir Week One

ABR website articles bearing on the location and historicity of Joshua's Ai:

The Search for Joshua's Ai

The Rise and Fall of the 13th Century Exodus-Conquest Theory

Further Considerations on the Location of Bethel at El-Bireh

Locating Biblical Bethel

Traditional Site of Bethel Questioned

Location of Biblical Bethel and Ai Reconsidered

Beth Aven: A Scholarly Conundrum

Israel's Origins

"The Cites are Great and Walled Up to Heaven"

From Ramesses to Shiloh: Archaeological Discoveries Bearing on the Exodus-Judges Period

Further Bibliographical Information:

Briggs, Peter

2005 Testing the Factuality of the Conquest of Ai Narrative in the Book of Joshua. Pp. 157–96 in Beyond the Jordan: Studies in Honor of W. Harold Mare, ed. Glenn A. Carnagey, Sr. (Eugene OR: Wipf & Stock).

Wood, Bryant G.

1999 The Search for Joshua's Ai: Excavations at Kh. el-Maqatir. Bible and Spade 12: 21–30.

1999 Kh. el-Maqatir 1999 Dig Report. Bible and Spade 12: 109–14.

2000 Kh. el-Maqatir 2000 Dig Report. Bible and Spade 13: 67–72.

2000 Khirbet el-Maqatir, 1995–1998. Israel Exploration Journal 50: 123–30.

2000 Khirbet el-Maqatir, 1999. Israel Exploration Journal 50: 249–54.

2001 Khirbet el-Maqatir, 2000. Israel Exploration Journal 51: 246–52.

2003 From Ramesses to Shiloh: Archaeological Discoveries Bearing on the Exodus–Judges Period. Giving the Sense: Understanding and Using Old Testament Historical Texts, David M. Howard, Jr., and Michael A. Grisanti, eds.  Grand Rapids MI: Kregel.

2009 The Search for Joshua’s Ai.  In: Critical Issues in the Early History of Israel, eds. Richard S. Hess, Gerald A. Klingbeil and Paul J. Ray, Jr. (Winona Lake IN: Eisenbrauns).


On the location of Bethel (best read in order of date):

Bimson, John J., and Livingston, David

1987  Redating the Exodus.  Biblical Archaeological Review 13/5: 41-53, 66-68.

Livingston, David P.

1970  Location of Bethel and Ai Reconsidered.  Westminster Theological Journal 33: 20-44.

1971  Traditional Site of Bethel Questioned.  Westminster Theological Journal 34: 39-50.

1994  Further Considerations on the Location of Bethel at el-Bireh.  Palestine Exploration Quarterly 126: 154-59.

*Khirbet el-Maqatir is pronounced [Ker-Bit el-Muh-Kah-ter]
**  ABR will in act in good faith as a Christian ministry in determining any possible refunds, but can make no guarantees in this regard.

Updated 05/11/10

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