Gezer

Also known as Tel el-Jazari, Tel Gezer, Tel Jeser, Tell Jezer, Abu Shusheh, Gazara, Gazer, Gazru

Gezer aerial from northwest

Gezer from South

Situated near the International Coastal Highway and guarding the primary route into the Israelite hill country, Gezer was one of the most strategic cities in the Canaanite and Israelite periods.  Gezer is a prominent 33-acre site that overlooked the Aijalon Valley and the road leading through it to Jerusalem.  The tell was identified as biblical Gezer in 1871 by C. Clermont-Ganneau who two years later found the first of many boundary stones inscribed with the city's name. 

 

Middle Bronze Tower

Gezer was one of the most important Canaanite cities in the Middle Bronze period (2000-1500 B.C.), as attested by the significant archaeological remains.  The city was protected by a large wall which included a massive tower.  Fifty-two feet in width, this tower is the largest structure in any defensive system in this period.

Gezer Middle Bronze tower

 

Gezer Middle Bronze gate

Middle Bronze Gate

Built with a stone foundation and a mudbrick superstructure, this city gate was constructed about 1650 BC. and is of the typical style of the period.  This gate was connected to a four meter wide city wall which likely had 25 or more rectangular towers.  The Middle Bronze city was probably destroyed by Thutmose III in his invasion c. 1477 BC. 

 

Standing Stones

A series of ten standing stones were uncovered in early excavations of the site (they were found laying down and re-erected by archaeologists).  Poor excavation makes these masseboth difficult to date, but most archaeologists believe they are from about 1500 BC, in the heyday of the Canaanites.  Some of the stones are more than three meters high.  The stones may have represented a treaty alliance (cf. Exod 24) or have been a cult center (cf. Lev 26).  

Gezer standing stones

 

Gezer watersystem

Gezer Watersystem

Severed from its context by the poor archaeological technique of Robert Alexander Stewart Macalister, the dating of this watersystem is difficult to determine.  This very deep system reaches down to the water table by a 7 meter round shaft and a 45 meter sloping tunnel.  Originally this system was dated to the Late Bronze Age (1500-1200 BC), but the more recent excavator Dever dates it to Iron II (1000-600 BC) based on parallels with systems at Hazor, Megiddo and Gibeon.  Reich sees a parallel with Warren's Shaft, which he now dates to 1800 BC.

Of Macalister's work, Moorey says, "The Gezer excavations suffered from the worst practices of the time...There was no control over stratigraphy...the interrelation of objects and debris was ignored."  Macalister himself said, "the exact spot in the mound where any ordinary object chanced to lie is not generally of great importance."

 

Solomonic Gate

What Macalister identified as a Maccabean castle is actually a beautiful monumental gateway from the time of Solomon, similar to those at Hazor and Megiddo.  The date of this gate is confirmed by the presence of a destruction level underneath it (from the unnamed pharaoh who gave the city to Solomon) and a destruction level not long after its construction (by Shishak in 925 BC).  Biblical history is dramatically confirmed by these archaeological findings.  

Gezer Solomonic three-chambered gate

Related Websites

Gezer - Walking in Their Sandals This site provides the essential geographical and historical information on the Gezer.

Gezer Calendar (K. C. Hanson)  A description of the Gezer Calendar, including study questions and a lengthy bibliography.

Tel Gezer Excavation and Publication Project (GezerProject.org) A new project headed by Steven Ortiz and Sam Wolff which will begin excavations in the summer of 2006.