Seeking the history beneath Solomon’s city at Gezer

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has released information about the most recent season of archaeology at Tel Gezer here.

Aerial view of Tel Gezer toward the coastal plain, SW from the site. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Southwest aerial view of Tel Gezer toward the coastal plain. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This summary of the most recent season was written by Steven Ortiz and Samuel Wolff.

The excavations at Gezer are sponsored by the Tandy Institute of Archaeology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with several consortium schools. The excavations are directed by Steven Ortiz of the Tandy and Samuel Wolff of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

In this, the sixth season of excavation, one goal was to remove a portion of the city wall built in the Iron IIA period (10th century BCE) in order to investigate a Late Bronze age destruction level (ca. 1400 BCE) that lay below it. To the surprise of the team, in the process of excavating the city wall, an earlier wall system dating to the Iron Age I (1200-1000 BCE) was discovered. This wall was one meter thick with several rooms attached to it. These rooms were filled by a massive destruction, nearly one meter in height,that included Canaanite storage jars, Philistine pottery and other items. A fragment of a Philistine figurine was also found this season. The biblical text record that the king of Gezer organized a Canaanite coalition against Joshua and David had a battle with the Philistines where he chased them “all the way to Gezer.” Perhaps the biblical accounts retain a memory of the importance of Gezer and its close relations to the Philistines during this period.

Beneath this city was an earlier city that was destroyed in a fierce conflagration. This city was functioning during the Egyptian 18th Dynasty’s rule over the southern Levant. Within the destruction debris were several pottery vessels along with a cache of cylinder seals and a large Egyptian scarab with the cartouche of Amenhotep III. This pharaoh was the father of the heretic King Akenaton and grandfather of the famous Tutankhamun (King Tut). This destruction corresponds to other destructions of other cities in the region, a reflection of the internecine warfare that was occurring between the Canaanite cites as reflected in the well-known Tell el-Amarna correspondence.

The archaeology of Solomon has been controversial, fueled by various theories over the dating of the archaeological record. The dating of the Gezer Iron Age Gate is at issue. The Gezer expedition is slowly stripping away layers of public and domestic structures of the 8th and 9th centuries BCE in order to reveal the 10th century city plan adjacent to the City Gate. This summer the tops of the 10th century walls began to poke out, making the archaeologists optimistic that in future seasons more of the Solomonic city will be exposed.

For more information see www.telgezer.com.

Steven Ortiz, professor of archaeology at Southwestern Seminary, is co-director of the archaeological excavations at Tel Gezer, site of one of the famed cities of Solomon located between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.  Photo by Matt Miller.

Steven Ortiz, professor of archaeology at Southwestern Seminary, is co-director of the archaeological excavations at Tel Gezer, site of one of the famed cities of Solomon located between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Photo by Matt Miller.

For earlier posts about Gezer, see the following: aerial photo with a view toward the hill country, boundary stones, and the water system.

HT: Joseph Lauer

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