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- For the kibbutz, see Gezer, Israel; For the Arab village, see Abu Shusha; for the regional council see Gezer Regional Council
Gezer (Hebrew: גֶּזֶר) was a town in ancient Israel. Scholars believe that Gezer is Tel Gezer (also known as Tell el-Jezer or Abu Shusheh), a site around midway on the route between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Today the site is a national park in modern Israel.
Gezer was located on the northern fringe of the Shephelah, approximately thirty kilometres west of Jerusalem. It was strategically situated at the junction of the international coastal highway and the highway connecting it with Jerusalem through the valley of Ajalon. The view from Gezer encompassed the whole Coastal Plain below it, making it a strategic military center. Verification of the identification of this site with Biblical Gezer comes from Hebrew inscriptions found engraved on rocks, several hundred meters from the tel. These inscriptions from the 1st century BCE read "boundary of Gezer."
Gezer is mentioned in connection with the conquest of the land under the leadership of Joshua (Joshua 10:33, 12:12), and was home to the Levites. It was noted to be under Philistine rule as David is said to have broken their rulership "from Geba to as far as to Gezer". It was the last point to which he pursued the Philistines (2 Sam. 5:25; 1 Chr. 14:16) after the battle of Baal-perazim. Later the Bible claims that Pharaoh of Egypt destroyed it (see Sack of Gezer) and gave it as a dowry to Solomon's wife.
Gezer is mentioned in Egyptian records, such as the writings of Thutmose III as well as the letters of Amarna, the Amarna Letters; and Pharaoh Merneptah boasted that he "seized Gezer". Amarna letters Gezer-(named Gazru, not Gaza, named Hazzatu) was ruled by 4 'mayors' during the 20 year Amarna letters period, 1350 BC. Archaeological excavation at Gezer has been going on since the early 1900s, and it has become one of the most excavated sites in Israel.
In the modern era, the site was discovered by Charles Simon Clermont-Ganneau in 1871. R. A. Stewart Macalister dug in the site between 1902 and 1907 on behalf of the Palestine Exploration Fund. Macalister recovered several artifacts discovered several constructions and defenses. He also established Gezer's habitation strata, though they were later found to be mostly incorrect (as well as many of his theories). Other notable archælogical expeditions to the site were made by Alan Rowe (1934), G.E. Wright (1964-5, at the head of the Hebrew Union College expedition), William Dever, Yigael Yadin, as well as the Andrews University.
One of the best-known findings is the Gezer calendar. This is a plaque containing a text appearing to be either a schoolboy's memory exercises, or something designated for the collection of taxes from farmers. Another possibility is that the text was a popular folk song, or child's song, listing the months of the year according to the agricultural seasons. It has proved to be of value by informing modern researchers of ancient Middle Eastern script and language, as well as the agricultural seasons.
Other interesting discoveries at the site related to Biblical archaeology:
- 10 monumental megaliths possibly comprising a Canaanite "high place"
- 9 inscribed boundary stones, making it the first positively identified Biblical city
- 6-chambered gate similar to those found at Hazor and Megiddo
The excavations at Gezer from 1964-1974 were the first to grant academic/college credit to student excavators (now a common practice).
Excavations were renewed in June 2006 by a consortium of institutions under the direction of Steve Ortiz (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) and Sam Wolff (Israel Antiquities Authority). The Tel Gezer Excavation and Publication Project is a multi-disciplinary field project investigating the Iron Age history of the ancient biblical city of Tel Gezer.
- William G. Dever, Gezer Revisited: New Excavations of the Solomonic and Assyrian Period Defenses, The Biblical Archaeologist, Vol. 47, No. 4 (Dec., 1984), pp. 206-218
- Dever, William G., "Visiting the Real Gezer: A Reply to Israel Finkelstein", Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University, Volume 30, Number 2, September 2003 , pp. 259-282(24)
- "Confronting the Past: Archaeological and Historical Essays on Ancient Israel", Seymour Gitin, (ed), Eisenbrauns, (January 2006), ISBN: 9781575061177
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