Khirbet Nisya: The Search for Biblical Ai, 1979-2002

by Dr. David Livingston

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This book is a final report on 24 years of excavations at Khirbet Nisya, Israel. "Khirbet" means "ruins," and "Nisya" means "forgotten." They are the "forgotten ruins" of what we believe was biblical Ai. (When we first found the site it was not on the registry of hundreds of sites in Israel at the Israel Antiquities Authority.) Could this be the Ai of Joshua's time? We believe so and that is what the book is about.

The book was written with laymen in mind as well as professional archaeologists. Two-thirds of the book was done to (hopefully) satisfy professionals. But even that material we tried to deal with in a manner that might interest nonprofessionals.

There are several chapters suggested by finds at the excavations which are meant to be enlightening biblically. We consider the Bible as Truth and a guide, not only religiously, but also historically.

One chapter is an in-depth study on the location of Bethel, the second most-mentioned city in the Bible next to Jerusalem. Both the traditional locations of Bethel and Ai apparently were wrong. This has had considerable implications for dating, especially for dating the Exodus and Conquest. Another chapter examines the present consensus on dating these two climactic events, and shows how the scholarly world went the wrong direction, leading to many current incorrect conclusions regarding locations and dates, all resulting from previously proposed sites for Bethel and Ai.

One must read the author's correspondence with Drs. Kelso and Albright in an appendix. The former was one of the author's professors at seminary, a very close friend, and was actually the editor of The Excavation of Bethel. Their responses to his changing the locations of both Bethel and Ai are very instructive.

  More than 40 pages of colored photos
  More than 150 photographs and plans
  29 pottery plates with catalogs
  310  pages  with a hard binding

Contents of the Book

Excavated periods include findings for:

      Middle and Late Bronze. (Photos of bronze MB dagger, scarab, and pottery.)
      Iron Age I and II. (Description of Iron Age I tomb with jewelry.)
      Persian. (A necessary period for site to be Ai. Photos of three Yahud seals.)
      Hellenistic. (Photos and plans of two pottery kilns. 12 cooking pots found in a trench.)
      Early Roman. (Details of refuse pit.)
      Early and Late Byzantine. (An underground dwelling. Finds indicating a church.)
      Early Islamic. (Unearthing a complete olive oil "factory," and a silver torque with 30 coins.)
      Enigmatic cuttings in bedrock. (Is this a Canaanite temple foundation?)
      Coins of Khirbet Nisya. (Of more than 220 coins found, 157 are photographed and catalogued.)
      Objects from all seasons. (Long list with photos of interesting small finds.)

Historical and Biblical studies:

      The identification and location of Biblical Bethel. (On the importance of Bethel's location.)
      The identification and location of Biblical Ai. (A thorough study on the significance of Ai.
         Map of the area showing placement of Israelite troops in the battle for Ai.)
      Why correct dates are vital for the Biblical Exodus and Conquest.
         (Traces developments in the deviations in dating.)
      Israel's origins. (Many scholars today believe Biblical narratives are myth -- here is the antidote.)
      Why use stone vessels and Mikvaot? (Explains some Jewish laws of cleansing.)
      Olive oil production and use in antiquity.


      Staff and volunteers for all seasons.
      Correspondence with J. Kelso and W.F. Albright.
      List of objects for all seasons.
      Locus summaries.

dawn view of Dead Sea from Khirbet Nisya

To Order Book

KHIRBET NISYA: 1979-2002
Excavation of the site with Related Studies in Biblical Archaeology

The book can be ordered from Masthof Bookstore or Amazon.com

Book on CD only - mailed anywhere - includes postage$19 (US)

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Please enclose check or Money Order made out to "Beth Bray".

Send check or money order with number of copies and your name and address to:

Beth Bray
PO Box 16
Wolverine, MI 49799

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© 2003 David Livingston