David Ussishkin’s alternative view is a wonderful account of excavations at the City of David on which many facts turn. Three references ought to be given greater weight because they fit the Biblical timelines.
- Fill L1654A/1656A comprised the fill beneath the floor which also abutted Wall 285 (De Groot and Bernick-Greenberg 2012: 110, photo 130, plan 58). The floor yielded MB II pottery, including one complete, and two partly complete storage jars (Eisenberg 2012: figs 7.4–7.6, 7.12–7.14).
- We should add at this point that ʻMB II pottery is likewise associated with the floor inside the cave at the south-eastern exit of Warren’s Shaft System’ (Reich and Shukron 2000b: 333).
- Hardly any remains from the Late Bronze or Iron I–IIA periods — structural remains and pottery alike — were uncovered in the Gihon Spring excavations (Reich 2011: 304–06; Reich and Shukron 2004: 213; Uziel et al. 2013: 24*). This datum indicates that, for some 800 years or so, between the end of the MB II in the 16th century and the Iron IIB in the 8th century, there was hardly any human activity in the area of the spring.
The presence of whole jars at L1654A/1656A is sufficient archaeological proof, by any standard that the floor post-dates the fill. The MBII pottery in the cave at the south-eastern end of the Warren’s Shaft System is sufficient to tie the period with L1654A/1656A, therefore the use of these features. Finally an 800 year gap in evidence at the Gihon Spring must surely be alluded to in the Biblical record.
According to Wikipedia, the Bronze Age and Iron Age together are sometimes called the "Biblical period". The periods of the Bronze Age include the following:
Early Bronze Age I (EB I) 3330–3050 BCE
Early Bronze Age II–III (EB II–III) 3050–2300 BCE
Early Bronze Age IV/Middle Bronze Age I (EB IV/MB I) 2300–2000 BCE
Middle Bronze Age IIA (MB IIA) 2000–1750 BCE
Middle Bronze Age IIB (MB IIB) 1800–1550 BCE
Late Bronze Age I–II (LB I–II) 1550–1200 BCE
In the Iron Age/Israelite period both the archaeological and narrative evidence from the Bible become richer and much writing has attempted to make links between them. A chronology includes:
Iron Age I (IA I) 1200–1000 BCE
Iron Age IIA (IA IIA) 1000–925 BCE
Iron Age IIB-C (IA IIB-C) 925–586 BCE
Iron Age III 586–539 BCE (Neo-Babylonian period)
We can already see the discrepancy between Ussishkin’s “800 year gap” and Wikipedia’s 625 years. Give or take inaccuracies, that could be reduced to 550-600 years. In any event it’s a significant period where trace of life is almost non-existent.
L1654A/1656A fill pre-dated the physical construction of wall 285, as such wall 285 may have occurred some reasonable time after MBII, the time for signs of life begins to narrow. If the theory that the Massive Fortified Corridor (MFC) of the Gihon Tower was built in response to Israel’s exodus from Egypt, it would serve the evidentiary gap. In the 436 years between the time Israel, under Joshua returned to their homeland and the appointment of King David, there is good reason significant evidence is absent.
Joshua 10:2-4 discloses that after news of Joshua’s destruction of Ai and secession by Gibeon , Adoni-Zedek, king of Jerusalem gathered neighboring kings from Hebron (south) Jarmuth (west), Lachish (south west), Eglon/Debir (south) to a battle they ultimately lost against Joshua.
The opening verses of Judges, 1:4-7 states the tribe of Judah brought Adoni-bezek to Jerusalem to die after he had been maimed by them. 1:8-15 briefly states Judah conquered Jerusalem. 1:17-19 states Judah also conquered Gaza, Ashkelon, Ekron and territory. 1:20,21 states Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem. 1:22-26 declares the house of Joseph smote Beit El, which was Luz. Shortly after these accounts Joshua dies and the period of Judges begins.
I included Gaza, Ashkelon and Ekron to illustrate that the tribe of Dan, to which this territory was allotted was unable to occupy it fully and were forced to also establish territory in the north. Further, Jerusalem was split because Judah conquered Jerusalem, but Benjamin did not. Finally the question about the location of Luz must be addressed. Two potential locations exist for BeitEl/Luz, Jerusalem and to the north modern Bethel. If Jacob’s dream at HaMakom was Mount Moriah - Jerusalem, it would support that the following tit-for-tat verses are not declarative as to territorial achievements. In any event there appears to be empirical victory over some of Jerusalem, which may also be related to the area defined as Beit El or Luz.
Wall 285, to which L1654A/1656A abuts was a wall of the lower city on the south east slope of Mount Moriah, therefore it stands to good reason that this was the Jerusalem Judah conquered. It would also comport with Benjamin’s allotment to the northern section of Mount Moriah, designated Jerusalem. Curiously Judges 1:22-26 uses the adverb גם (gum) meaning also or further to the previous verse, regarding Benjamin's Jerusalem. As such BeitEl/Luz, which was smote by the House of Joseph forms a relationship between the verses and associates BeitEl/Luz with Jerusalem.
Returning to the absence of evidence at the Gihon, if indeed Judah or Joseph had destroyed the lower city of Jerusalem, it would necessitate that life ceased abruptly and that the ever present Israelite threat may have rendered the lower slopes of Mount Moriah uninhabitable for the entire ~440 years of Joshua through through King David.
The biblical account emphasizes that Ussishkin’s unusual absence of evidence associates the time of Joshua-Judges and suggests that use of the Warren’s Shaft System, following the Judah-House of Joseph attack on the lower city became the limitation on access to water, a significant factor that restricted the upper city's population growth.