Its classic form took shape at the hands of the so-called Baltimore School, consisting primarily of W. With the conquest set at around 1220 BC, the exodus would have occurred (according to Nu. This places it in the reign of the pharaoh Ramesses II, in keeping with the reference in Exodus to the enslaved Israelites building the store-cities Pithom and Raamses.
Excavations at the likely site of Raamses revealed no evidence of occupation during Egypt's Eighteenth Dynasty, effectively excluding a date before the 13th century BC for the exodus. N. Kitchen has long been its foremost exponent. Some American evangelicals have also adopted it, though others have baulked at a non-literal treatment of 1 Kings 6:1 (discussed below) and have continued to argue for a 15th-century date. [p.5] The 13th-century date has never been without its problems.
This raises serious methodological issues, especially when placed alongside Kitchen's treatment of 1 Kings 6:1.
Hence he has suggested that 13th-century BC Jericho has been entirely eroded away, that the LBA burials at Gibeon may indicate an occupation which has been missed by the excavator, and that the site of LBA Ai still awaits discovery. Indeed, Kitchen has repeatedly stressed that 'absence of evidence is not evidence of absence', that lack of occupation cannot be assumed simply because no trace of it is found.
The site of Ai (Khirbet et-Tell, or simply Et-Tell) is another parade example of the failure of excavations to support the biblical tradition.
Here the gap in occupation lasts at least a thousand years, 2200-1200 BC.
These hopes came to nothing; the gap at Et-Tell was confirmed and the search for an alternative site proved fruitless. J. Pritchard's excavations (1956-62) at El-Jib, the site of Gibeon, produced no LBA material except some burials from the 14th century BC, leading Pritchard to the conclusion that no town had existed there during the LBA. As early as 1965 Pritchard remarked that the problems encountered at Jericho, Ai and Gibeon (ironically, the three cities to which Joshua 2-9 give extended treatment) 'suggest that we have reached an impasse on the question of supporting the traditional view of the conquest with archaeological undergirding'. Supporters of the 13th-century conquest have not accepted this verdict, emphasizing the positive evidence and offering explanations for the negative finds from Jericho, Ai and Gibeon.
For example, Bright has stressed that extensive erosion makes the situation at Jericho unclear; Wright and Yadin, following the same line, have explained the lack of LBA fortifications there in terms of the re-use of the MBA walls - though Wright admitted that there was no shred of evidence to support this theory. Albright explained the problem of Ai by suggesting that the narrative in Joshua 8 originally referred to the taking of Bethel (though it bears no similarity to the account of Bethel's capture in Jdg.
What has happened is that Kitchen and others have found the archaeological evidence for a 13th-century date so compelling that they have sought to reinterpret 1 Kings 6:1 and Judges in the light of it.