Friday, July 29, 2022

Gezer's Prominence in the Bronze Age

Bronze Age cities including Gezer (Courtesy BAR)

Gezer was inhabited as early as 4300 B.C. The original settlement consisted of cave dwellings and simple structures built across the mound until expansion began in the Middle Bronze Age (c. 2000–1200 B.C.). This later period saw the construction of Gezer’s massive fortifications of large stone blocks and towers. A rare cache of gold and silver figurines dated to 3,600 years ago were found at Gezer inside a clay vessel within the foundations of a building.

Gezer also had the largest and oldest water system discovered in the ancient Near East. The system extends hundreds of feet below the tell, and archaeologists have discovered a natural cave at the bottom of the shaft. It likely is the source of the tunnel's water supply.

These standing stones date to around 400 years before the time of Abraham.
Photo: Dennis Cole

Today Gezer is famous for its ten standing stones (shown above) that date to the period of the standing stones erected on Salisbury Plain in England around 2500 B.C. Some rise more than 10 feet. This was a ceremonial site where treaties were ratified, coronations held, and official rituals observed. 

Gezer's prominence during the Middle Bronze Age was due to its control of the trade routes at the junction of the Via Maris with the Aijalon Valley. This eventually threatened Egyptian interests in the region. During the Late Bronze Age, Egypt sought to control its trade routes and exacted taxes from the region's city-states. Egyptian monuments and texts boast of the military campaigns against Gezer between 1479 and 1203 B.C. 

During the Late Bronze Age, Gezer and other cities in the southern Levant were under the control of Egypt’s 18th Dynasty. Hebrew University professor Tallay Ornan believes that Gezer’s destruction in the Late Bronze Age “either represents an Egyptian campaign to subdue Gezer, or local Canaanites attacking an Egyptian stronghold at Gezer.”

Gezer's six-chambered gate dates to the time of King Solomon. (Wikimedia Commons)

1 Kings 9:16–17 reports that the king of Egypt captured Gezer and burned it down. He later gave the city as dowry to his daughter who married King Solomon, and according to 1 Kings 9:17, Solomon rebuilt Gezer.

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