Friday, September 16, 2011

Excavation of Gezer’s Water System

Two articles (at one link) describe this summer’s excavation of Gezer’s ancient water system, alleged to be the largest in all of Israel. The reports are lengthy and only a few excerpts will be given here. See the full articles for more details and photographs. Fans of the bumbling Robert Alexander Stewart Macalister will not be disappointed.

It is believed the Canaanites cut the massive tunnel around the time of Abraham using flint tools. Measuring nearly 13 feet wide by 24 feet high at the opening and stretching 150 feet into the ground at a 38 degree slope, the Gezer tunnel is the largest ancient water system ever unearthed.

Late in the last week of the 2011 dig, the NOBTS team found the natural cave at the end of the massive rock-hewn water system -- the prime objective of this season's dig. It is believed that the system's original water source is located in or near the opening of the cave.

[...]

During next summer's dig, scheduled for May 27-June 15, the New Orleans team will focus on excavating the cave in hopes of answering several lingering questions about the water system. First and foremost, the team will try to discover how the Canaanites knew about the water source. Warner believes the Canaanites found the water source through an opening in the cave located outside the city walls. He speculates that the tunnel was cut to provide the city with a safe water source during times of siege....Another question involves the date of the tunnel's construction.

[...]

After slowly digging through the rocks for a day and a half, the team reached the cave on June 7. It was 15 feet deeper into the water system than Macalister had recorded. The cave was filled to the top with fine, muddy silt. The last two days of the dig were spent cutting a 3-foot by 17-foot trench into the cave silt, readying the site for the 2012 dig.

The final statistics from this summer are helpful in understanding the massive scope of the dig. According to Parker's calculations, the team removed 231 tons of debris (1,372 bags) in 17 days of digging. Warner and Parker's smaller 2010 team removed 68 tons of debris.

The full reports are here.

HT: Joseph Lauer

Gezer water system, tbs102149811

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