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.