The book of Joshua depicts Israel's national beginning in a story of a violent entry of outsiders into a settled and fortified land. On the other hand, archaeological surveys and excavations show that while the Canaanite urban society indeed experienced collapse at the end of the Late Bronze period, both the general outline of the story and its details are ahistorical. Past scholarship offered to view the conquest accounts as etiologies. Yet why does this national foundational myth focus on places such as Jericho, Ai, Hazor, which occupied marginal space in Israelite national history, rather than sites that played a central role such as Beth-el, Jerusalem, Hebron?

This presentation suggests that the very marginality of these sites in the Israelite sphere combined with physical evidence of collapsed past grandeur is what rendered them accessible to the national foundational myth.