Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gezer Excavations, 2006-2009

Several weeks ago I mentioned briefly the preliminary report from the first four seasons of the Gezer excavations of Ortiz and Wolff (2006-2009). As it may be easy to skip reading a lengthy online report, I thought I would return to it and note the conclusions here, in easier-to-read bullet-point fashion:

“Major results from the first four excavation seasons include:

  • the exposure of the Middle Bronze Age glacis;
  • the discovery of a Late Bronze Age stratum, consisting of several wall fragments and a large pillar base that probably indicates the presence of a major public structure;
  • the clarification of the Iron Age fortification systems;
  • the distinguishing of three major architectural strata from Iron II;
  • a large Israelite four-room house and three public buildings that were destroyed in the eighth century BCE, probably as a result of Tiglath Pileser III’s campaign in the region;
  • and the excavation of three Hellenistic building complexes.”

Not mentioned in the conclusion, but potentially quite significant with regard to the date of the Solomonic gate and its associated level is the discovery of a stamp.

Several storage-jar stoppers/plugs were discovered in the deep contemporary construction backfill within one of the chambers created by this system. One of these stoppers bore an Egyptian stamp typical of the so-called 'Early Iron Age Mass-Produced Seals' (EIAMS) series, dated by some scholars from the twelfth/eleventh to the early tenth centuries BCE, and by others, to the mid-tenth century BCE, thus dating the glacis and retaining wall system to late Iron I or early Iron II.

Something major was clearly going on at Gezer in the Iron Age before the 9th century. As noted before, Sam Wolff has written that the team is a season or two away from floor levels associated with the (Solomonic) six-chambered gate.

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