The biblical account of Joshua's conquest and destruction of the Canaanite city of Ai is completely erroneous.
Joshua 8:26-28 Israelite forces attacked Ai, burned it, "utterly destroyed all the inhabitants," and made it a "heap forever" (vs:).
Extensive archaeological work at the site of Ai, however, has revealed that the city was destroyed and burned around 2400 B. C., which would have been over a thousand years before the time of Joshua. Joseph Callaway, a conservative Southern Baptist and professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, spent nine years excavating the ruins of ancient Ai and afterwards reported that what he found there contradicted the biblical record.
The evidence from Ai was mainly negative. There was a great walled city there beginning about 3000 B. C., more than 1,800 years before Israel's emergence in Canaan. But this city was destroyed about 2400 B. C., after which the site was abandoned.
Despite extensive excavation, no evidence of a Late Bronze Age (1500-1200 B. C.) Canaanite city was found. In short, there was no Canaanite city here for Joshua to conquer (Biblical Archaeology Review, "Joseph A. Callaway: 1920-1988," November/December 1988, p. 24, emphasis added).
This same article quoted what Callaway had earlier said when announcing the results of his nine-year excavation of Ai.
"Archaeology has wiped out the historical credibility of the conquest of Ai as reported in Joshua 7-8".
The Joint Expedition to Ai worked nine seasons between 1964 and 1976... only to eliminate the historical underpinning of the Ai account in the Bible (Ibid., p. 24).