One of the main issues that archaeologists deal with is identifying a site. Site identification helps in linking historical sources related to the site with archaeological data, and apply a well-rounded approach to the site’s past.
It is many times difficult to identify a site, since the only way to be certain of a site’s identification is to find an inscription with the site’s name. this is not all that common in the Bronze and Iron Ages, when inscriptions are hard to come by. Another way is if the site’s original name was preserved. this is more common, although not always is it the case. Finally, if one analyzes the historical data, and is able to pinpoint the location of a specific site mentioned in historical sources, then a possible identification can be offered.
In the case of Tel Burna, with no excavation material available, the problem is even more difficult. despite this, several scholars have suggested identifying the site with Biblical Libnah (although one should note that nearby Tel Zayit is a very likely candidate as well – as Ron Tappy, the excavator their, has recently published).
Libnah was a Canaanite town that was conquered by Joshua who allotted it to the tribe of Judah (Josh. 10:29-30; 15:42). The city was chosen as one of the Levitical cities (Josh. 21:13), which points to its role as a border site. According to 2 Kgs. 8:22 (and 2 Chr. 21:10), the city of Libnah was involved in the rebellion against Jehoram the king of Judah (in 9th century BCE) and later, a woman from Libnah married King Josiah in the 7th century BCE (Kings 23:31-32;2 Kings 24:17-18; Jeremiah 22:11).
In any case, even if the site is not Libnah, it is clear for the survey results (which will be mentioned in an upcoming post) that the site was a very important site in the Iron Age, along the border between Judah and the Philistines.