William Foxwell Albright (May 24, 1891-September 19/September 20, 1971) was an evangelical American Methodist archaeologist, biblical scholar, linguist and expert on ceramics.
He was born in Coquimbo, Chile to Protestant missionaries Wilbur Finley and Zephine Viola Foxwell Albright, the eldest of six. He married Dr. Ruth Norton in 1921 in Jerusalem. The couple had four sons.
Albright received his Ph.D. in 1913 from Johns Hopkins University, where he later taught from 1929 to 1959 and was director of the American school of Oriental Research at Johns Hopkins. One of his major achievements was confirming the authenticity of the Dead Sea Scrolls following their discovery.
Albright argued that the Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were real historical figures, and he believed that Joshua's exploits were historical as well. He insisted that "as a whole, the picture in Genesis is historical, and there is no reason to doubt the general accuracy of the biographical details."
In 1923 he made the first significant excavation of a tumulus near Jerusalem--possibly the site where an ancient king of Judah was memorialized. Another noteworthy contribution he made to the field of Biblical archaeology was his study of the LMLK seals and the impact it had on other researchers from 1925-1960 (Grena, 2004, pp. 149-78).
He also excavated a mound named Tell Beit Mirsim near Hebron from 1926 to 1932. He identified this site with the Canaanite city of Debir, mentioned several times in the Hebrew Bible, although this identification has since been challenged. Together with other finds, this seemed to confirm that the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites was historical. (This interpretation is not commonly accepted today, since more recent archaeological finds make such a conquest unlikely.)
He edited the Anchor Bible volumes on Jeremiah, Matthew, and Revelation; his books include Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan, The Archaeology of Palestine: From the Stone Age to Christianity, and The Biblical Period from Abraham to Ezra.
The W. F. Albright institute of Archaeological research, a branch of the American Schools of Oriental Research is located in Jerusalem.