InstitutionsEditor of Bible and Spade Known forReassesment of Garstang's and Kenyon's Jericho Datings BooksThe Sociology of Pottery in Ancient Palestine: The Ceramic Industry and the Diffusion of Ceramic Style in the Bronze and Iron Ages EducationRensselaer Polytechnic Institute, University of Toronto, University of Michigan, Syracuse University
Bryant G. Wood is a biblical archaeologist and young earth creationist. He is Research Director of Associates for Biblical Research and editor of their quarterly archaeology magazine Bible and Spade, which is explicitly committed to the use of archaeology to demonstrate the historical veracity of the Old and New Testaments. Wood is known for his 1990 proposed redating of the destruction of Jericho to accord with the biblical chronology of c. 1400 BC. His proposal contradicts the dating of c. 1550 BC, as proposed by Kathleen Kenyon and confirmed by carbon-dating.
Wood attended Syracuse University, graduating with a B.S. in mechanical engineering, later earning a M.S. in mechanical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. He later pursued biblical and archaeological studies and received an M.A. in Biblical History from the University of Michigan in 1974 and a Ph.D. in Syro-Palestinian archaeology from the University of Toronto in 1985. Wood is a specialist in Canaanite pottery of the Late Bronze Age. He is author of The Sociology of Pottery in Ancient Palestine: The Ceramic Industry and the Diffusion of Ceramic Style in the Bronze and Iron Ages (1990), as well as numerous articles on archaeological subjects. In addition, Wood serves as editor of the quarterly publication Bible and Spade.
Wood received international attention for his proposed redating of ancient Jericho, arguing for the historicity of the biblical account of the capture of the city by the Israelites. He has also written on the entry of the Philistines into Canaan and on the historicity of the Biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Wood is a young earth creationist who is described by Creation Ministries International as a creationist archaeologist.
According to the story in the biblical book of Joshua, Jericho was the first Canaanite city to fall to the Israelites as they began their conquest of the Promised Land - an event which the Bible's internal chronology places at around 1406 BC, based on the early 15th century BC exodus-conquest model. This is based on 1 Kings 6:1. During a series of excavations from 1930 to 1936 John Garstang found a destruction layer at Jericho corresponding to the termination of City IV which he identified with the biblical story of Joshua and dated to c. 1400 BC. It was therefore a shock when Kathleen Kenyon in the 1950s, using more scientific methods than had been available to Garstang, redated Jericho City IV to 1550 BC and found no signs of any habitation at all for the period around 1400 BC. Wood's 1990 reversion of City IV to Garstang's original 1400 BC therefore attracted considerable attention. In 1999, based on a reanalysis of pottery shards (a method which can provide highly accurate dates in the context of the ancient Near East), Wood argued that Jericho could have been captured in the Late Bronze Age by Joshua. Wood and Piotr Bienkowski debated this in the March/April 1990 issue of Biblical Archaeological Review, with Bienkowski writing:
Wood has attempted to redate the destruction of Jericho City IV from the end of the Middle Bronze Age (c. 1550 B.C.) to the end of the Late Bronze I (c. 1400 BC). He has put forward four lines of argument to support his conclusion. Not a single one of these arguments can stand up to scrutiny. On the contrary, there is strong evidence to confirm Kathleen Kenyon's dating of City IV to the Middle Bronze Age. Wood's attempt to equate the destruction of City IV with the Israelite conquest of Jericho must therefore be rejected.
Wood responded that he had produced evidence to back his argument, and that any counter-claims should also be backed by fresh evidence. In 1995 fresh evidence became available in the form of charred cereal grains from the City IV destruction layer. Radiocarbon dating of these grains showed that Jericho City IV was destroyed "during the late 17th or the 16th century BC", in line with Kenyon's findings, and that "the fortified Bronze Age city at Tell es-Sultan [Jericho] was not destroyed by ca.1400 BC, as Wood (1990) suggested". Wood responded to the newer evidence in an article for the Associates for Biblical Research, concluding that he still held to the date ca. 1400 B.C. based on pottery finds. Wood also argues that the discrepancy is part of the ongoing dispute between Egyptologists and radiocarbon experts that centers around the date of the Thera eruption. Kenyon's date is consensually accepted by mainstream archaeologists. William G. Dever stated: "(Of course, for some, that only made the Biblical story more miraculous than ever—Joshua destroyed a city that wasn't even there!)" According to Ann E. Killebrew, "Most scholars today accept that the majority of the conquest narratives in the book of Joshua are devoid of historical reality".
Wood directs excavations at Khirbet el-Maqatir, a city which he contends may be the biblical city of Ai. The traditional location of Ai, et-Tell, was excavated most recently by Joseph Callaway and was found to have been abandoned during the entirety of the Middle Bronze and Late Bronze Ages. Khirbet el-Maqatir has produced pottery of the Early Bronze, Middle Bronze, Late Bronze I, Iron Age I, late Hellenistic/early Roman, and Byzantine periods. Based on initial finds, including a small Late Bronze I fortress in areas A, D, E, and G, Wood's "preliminary conclusion is that the LB I fortress meets the Biblical requirements to be tentatively identified as the fortress 'Ai, referred to in Josh. 7-8." Nearby Khirbet Nisya has also been suggested, by excavator David Livingstone, as an alternative location for Ai.
Wood, Bryant G. (1985). Palestinian Pottery of the Late Bronze Age: an investigation of the terminal LB IIB phase. Ottawa: National Library of Canada. ISBN 978-0-3151-8831-0. OCLC 16020443.
——— (1987). The Palestinian Evidence for a Thirteenth Century Conquest: an archaeological appraisal. OCLC 861056373.
——— (1987). Egyptian Amphorae of the New Kingdom and Ramesside Period. Durham, NC: American Schools of Oriental Research. OCLC 77650066.
——— (1990). The Sociology of Pottery in Ancient Palestine: the ceramic industry and the diffusion of ceramic style in the Bronze and Iron Ages. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, Supplement series. 103. Sheffield, England: JSOT Press for the American Schools of Oriental Research. ISBN 978-1-850-75269-1. OCLC 25358621.
——— (March 1990). "Did the Israelites Conquer Jericho? A New Look at the Archaeological Evidence". Biblical Archaeology Review. 16 (2): 44–58.
——— (September 1990). "Dating Jericho's Destruction: Bienkowski Is Wrong on All Counts". Biblical Archaeology Review. 16 (5): 45–69.
——— (November 1991). "The Philistines Enter Canaan: Were They Egyptian Lackeys or Invading Conquerors?". Biblical Archaeology Review. 17 (6): 44–52, 89–92.
——— (Spring 1999). "The Walls of Jericho". Bible and Spade. 12 (2): 35–42.