And yet, a nomadic error: A reply to Israel finkelstein

Translated title of the contribution: And yet, a nomadic error: A reply to Israel finkelstein

Erez Ben-Yosef*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Israel Finkelstein’s detailed criticism1 of my 2019 publication “The Architectural Bias in Current Biblical Archaeology”2 provides an opportunity to further clarify my arguments, and to deepen the discussion on issues related to the early Iron Age archaeology of the Arabah and nearby regions. In addition to pointing out specific problems in Finkelstein’s treatment of the archaeological evidence—the dating of Khirbat en-Nahas fortress, the material culture of Tel Masos and more—I elaborate on my main argument regarding the prevailing methodological deficiencies in the interpretation of biblical-era nomads. I maintain that the chance discovery of a strong nomadic polity in the Arabah, whose existence is known to us solely because of its engagement in the archaeologically-visible copper production activities, necessitates a revision in the common treatment of nomads in archaeology-based historical reconstructions. The basic conclusion is that archaeology is inadequate for providing any substantial historical and social insights regarding mobile societies; and while it might be frustrating to scholars who use archaeology as history, adhering to notions about nomadic existence that have not changed much since the days of William Foxwell Albright is not conducive to the quest for accurate historical realities (to the degree that these even exist).

Translated title of the contributionAnd yet, a nomadic error: A reply to Israel finkelstein
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-60
Number of pages28
JournalAntiguo Oriente
StatePublished - 2020


  • Arabah
  • Biblical archaeology
  • Copper
  • Edom
  • Faynan
  • Khirbat en-Nahas
  • Negev highlands
  • Nomadism
  • State formation
  • Tel Masos
  • Timna


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