Yosef Garfinkel

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Yosef Garfinkel[1] (born July 7, 1956, Israel) is a highly prominent archaeologist, geologist, and anthropologist, known mostly for his excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa. Yosef Garfinkel is also currently a Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology and Archaeology of the Biblical Period at the Hebrew University. Yosef Garfinkel is married with two children, and currently lives in Jerusalem, Israel.


In 1981, Garfinkel earned his B.A. in Geography and Archaeology at the Hebrew University. He then earned his M.A. in 1987 in Prehistory and Biblical Archaeology, and later earned a Ph.D. in Archaeology at the Hebrew University in 1992. In 1992, he also engaged in Post-Doctoral Studies at the Harvard University in Anthropology & Semitic Museum.[2]


Starting in 1975, Yosef Garfinkel first became a part of the Israel Defense Forces, and served there until 1978. Then, between 1978 until 2001, he was part of the Reserve Services.

Yosef Garfinkel has had numerous positions in the Hebrew University. Between 1983-1987, he was a Research Assistant in Archaeology. He then served as a Teaching Assistant in Archaeology between 1988-1991, Instructor in Archaeology between 1992-1994, and served as a lecturer in Archaeology between 1995-2000. He became a Senior Lecturer in Archaeology in 2001, Associate Professor in Archaeology in 2004, and Professor of Archaeology in 2012. Garfinkel has held other positions in Hebrew University, including Head of Archaeology program at Rehovot extension of the Faculty of Humanities between 1995-1998, and Head of the Biblical Archaeology department at the Institute of Archaeology between 2004-2006. He became Head of the Berman Center for Biblical Archaeology in 2005 and Yigael Yadin Chair in Archaeology of Eretz Yisrael in 2007.

Garfinkel has also held positions in academic institutions outside of the Hebrew University, even though his main career is in the Hebrew University. Between 1987-1992, Garfinkel was a Research Assistant at the Centre de Recherché Francais de Jerusalem. Between 1985-1993, he was a Research Fellow at the Albright Institute of Archaeology. In 1995, he became a Research Affiliate in Anthropology at Yale University, in 2000 became Visiting scholar at the Ashmolean Museum and Wolfsan Collage at Oxford University, and in 2000 also became Visiting scholar at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at Cambridge University. Finally, academic activity of Yosef Garfinkel also includes being a Curator at the Archaeological Museum in Kibbutz Sha'ar Hagolan since 1994 and Guest Curator of the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem since 1999. He also served on the editorial board of the Bulletin of the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society and guest-editor in the journal Near Eastern Archaeology in 2003. Yosef Garfinkel's book Dance at the Dawn of Agriculture won the Polonsky Book Prize in 2006.


Yosef Garfinkel has engaged in excavations at numerous sites. This includes excavations at Yiftahel, Gesher, Tel ‘Ali, Ashkelon, Sha‘ar Hagolan, Tel Tsaf, Khirbet Qeiyafa and Lachish.[3]

Khirbet Qeiyafa

Yosef Garfinkel directed excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa between 2008-2016, a site that has received significant attention for its significance to the ongoing debate regarding the ancient Judean kingdom of King David, and it's impact on biblical studies. According to some scholars, including Israel Finkelstein, Israel was never the kingdom under King David it is portrayed as in the Bible, and was rather a small, regional, sparsely inhabited agrarian society. The site of Khirbet Qeiyafa dates to between 1020-980 BC,[4] the reign of David, and it reveals a highly centralized administration requiring hundreds of thousands of tons of stones to construct, and a heavily fortified site, and appears to be a city of Judea,[5] under David's rule at the time. This would reveal that David ruled over an entire kingdom in his time, and establish the historical foundations in which the Bible ascribes to him. Some have tried to get around this by suggesting Khirbet Qeiyafa to be a Canaanite site[6] rather than Judean, however it is now well established that the site is Judean,[7] and is most likely to be identified with the biblical city of Shaaraim -- Khirbet Qeiyafa is the only site up until its time to have two gates, and Shaaraim means 'two gates'. Brian Colless says "Khirbet Qeiyafa... has been plausibly identified as Sha'arayim".[8]

Aside from revealing that David ruled over a kingdom in his time, Khirbet Qeiyafa has also yielded the earliest potentially Hebrew ostracon,[9] establishing that Israel had writing at that time. The findings of Khirbet Qeiyafa have been one of the most significant findings to the archaeology of the Bible in a while. Garfinkel concludes that "Khirbet Qeiyafa clearly indicates that historical memories concerning the 10th century BC are preserved in the biblical text."[10]

More recently, an inscription from Khirbet Qeiyafa was recently published in 2015, now known as the ʾIšbaʿal Inscription,[11] an ancient inscription in the Canaanite language relevant to biblical studies. The inscription was of a name engraved on a pot, dating to the 10th century BC. The name inscribed onto the pot has been identified as ʾIšbaʿal/Eshba'al, which is also the known name for one of the sons of Saul, the first king of Israel, Eshbaal (1 Chronicles 8:33, 2 Samuel 2:10 [Ishbosheth=Eshbaal]). Therefore, we can see that the name Eshbaal was in fact a name that existed during the time surrounding the life of Saul, giving further credence to the biblical record. Secondly, this name only appears in this 10th century BC inscription, and no later ones. Yosef Garfinkel, Saar Ganor and Haggai Misgav note in their paper; "In the following centuries, however, any personal name with the element Baʿal disappears from the biblical text as well as from ancient inscriptions from Judah between the ninth and sixth centuries."[12] This indicates that the biblical text could not have been composed at a later period, as names with 'Baal', such as 'Eshbaal' no longer existed during later centuries after the tenth century BC.


  1. Yosef Garfinkel
  2. Prof. Yosef Garfinkel
  3. Prof. Yosef Garfinkel
  4. Garfinkel, Y., and Katharina Streit. "Radiometric Dating of the Iron Age City." Khirbet Qeiyafa 2 (2014): 2009-2013. pg. 368.
  5. Garfinkel, Yosef. "The birth and death of biblical minimalism." Biblical Archaeology Review 37.3 (2011): pp. 51-52.
  6. Naaman, Nadav. "Khirbet Qeiyafa in context." Ugarit-Forschungen 42 (2010): 497-526.
  7. Why Khirbet Qeiyafa is a Judean City
  8. The Lost Link The Alphabet in the Hands of the Early Israelites
  9. Millard, Alan. "The ostracon from the days of David found at Khirbet Qeiyafa." Tyndale Bulletin 62.1 (2011).
  10. A Reply to R. Arav’s Review of Khirbet Qeiyafa Vol. 1
  11. Garfinkel, Yosef, et al. "The ʾIšbaʿal Inscription from Khirbet Qeiyafa." Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 373 (2015): 217-233.
  12. "The ʾIšbaʿal Inscription from Khirbet Qeiyafa." Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 373 (2015): 231.