A New Gezer

I went to Gezer today. I was at Gezer last month and it looked pretty much the same as it has for the last 15 years. Overgrown. Devoid of tourists. Overgrown. Lacking signs or a good access road. But today was different.

The first surprise was the signs. There was a sign at every archaeological area plus one.

The signs, for the most part, were very good. They’re all in three languages, attractive, and generally accurate. The text wasn’t written by a clerk in an office but by an archaeologist.

This sign, however, I cannot figure out. (The apparent error is repeated in the Hebrew text, so it’s not just an inadvertent typo.)

The next surprise was the state of the major archaeological discoveries. All were cleared of their overgrowth. What a difference that makes! Take a look at the Solomonic gate.

Of course, that should be “Solomon’s Gate” according to the official sign. The quotes are important. 

And in spite of what the excavating archaeologists have said, the gate is only “probably” dated to the 10th century. Is such a nod to Finkelstein and his sliver of scholarship really necessary here?

The reason for the beautiful state of things is two-fold. First, the Israel Parks Authority decided to take action and make some improvements, including clearing trails and erecting signs. Second, new excavations are underway at Gezer for the first time in 20 years. Led by Dr. Steven Ortiz and Sam Wolff, the team of 60 has made huge progress in the last month in excavating the casemate wall west of the Solomonic Gate (no quotes). That in addition to their work in clearing the weeds away from the sites.

It’s an impressive operation.

There’s a consortium of about six schools that have students and faculty participating. My bet: next year there are more.

And why not? It’s a perfect site to dig: tons of textual history associated with it, prominent in the Bible, close to Jerusalem, excellent housing facilities, first-rate excavators, and staffed by wonderful people.

Back to the site itself. The watersystem (Middle Bronze?) will soon be open to the public, with a staircase now being installed.

What’s lacking? A decent road to get there. You can drive a car, but to get a bus driver to agree is not easy. And if it has rained in the last 10 days, forget it. And the Late Bronze tombs are still overgrown, filled with junk, and hard to find.

But with all of this, who can complain?

Want more? Take a look at the Gezer Excavations Project website, one supervisor’s blog of the excavations or the BiblePlaces Gezer page, which has even more links to Gezer-related sites.


6 thoughts on “A New Gezer

  1. Thanks for the great post! It brings back a lot of great memories. Gezer looks great!
    It is interesting that they took the fringe opinion of someone who’s opinions are widely questioned, even in the scholarly world, for thier “official” signage. Oh well, I guess that’s to be expected. Look at all the hype around “DaVinci Code”…sheesh!
    Thanks for the great pics too! Someone could do a lot worse than digging at Gezer!

  2. Thank you so much for writing this update on Gezer and for including the pictures. I was a part of the Gezer excavation for the first two weeks, then had to leave the project. It is very exciting to see what has transpired since I have been gone.

  3. Todd – It looks amazing. I remember having to hop along the top of the Solomonic Gate last summer because it was so overgrown you couldn’t walk on the “ground.” If you fell into the grass, you didn’t know how far it would be before you hit the ground. It’s neat to see it cleared out.

  4. Hi Todd — We went today, and it was a) still devoid of tourists b) set up even better than when you saw it, staircase is finished and c) still lacking a decent road. We came in through the back way which was an adventure. Someone has recently burned off a lot of the underbrush around part of the site, which, though having scorched the earth, made things a lot easier to make out. Good site overall. We also hit Tel Bet Shemesh, Tel Azekah, and Beit Jemal.
    Thanks for the GREAT blog!

  5. About the ‘Sheik’s Tomb’ sign: Change “BC” to “AD” (or “CE”) and I think the sign makes sense. What’s surprising is that they used the “Christian” terminology “BC” at all.

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