Tel Gezer, Biblical Site in Israel, Canaanite Archaeology, King Solomon, Paleo-Hebrew Calendar


Tel Gezer, Biblical Site in Israel, Canaanite Archaeology, King Solomon, Paleo-Hebrew Calendar

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Situated in the Judean foothills of Israel, Tel Gezer was an important city during the Canaanite and Israelite periods. The site was located on the crossroads of the Via Maris and the road to Jerusalem. The Via Maris was the ancient coastal trade route linking Egypt and Syria, Anatolia and Mesopotamia. It became an important fortified Canaanite city-state in the first half of the 2nd millennium BCE, mentioned in the Amarna letters swearing allegiance to Egypt’s pharaoh and in the Bible in association with Joshua and King Solomon.

The Gezer calendar, a small limestone tablet with an early Canaanite inscription was discovered at the site in 1908 by Irish archaeologist R. A. Stewart Macalister, it is commonly dated to the 10th century BCE. This agricultural calendar is believed to be the oldest Hebrew inscription and was written in the Paleo-Hebrew/Phoenician alphabet. The original calendar is displayed at the Istanbul Archaeology Museums.

The fortifications at the site are some of the most impressive defenses of the Canaanite period. A rock-hewn water system was dug 40 m bellow the surface and could have been used during times of peace and war by the population of the city.

The Canaanite city at Gezer was destroyed during a violent campaign. Evidence for fire was discovered at all excavated areas of the mound and is associated with the military campaign of Pharaoh Shoshneq I in 925 BCE, who is held to be recorded as Pharaoh Shishak in the Bible. Reconstruction at the site is associated with the biblical descriptions of the works of King Solomon.

Gezer has a monolithic temple with ten standing stones which could have represented an alliance made between Gezer and nine neighboring cities, a large basin could have been used in blood libation in a ceremony forging such an alliance. Such a ritual and an alliance is described in the Bible as Moses brought down the Ten Commandments to the Israelites on Mount Sinai:

“And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord. And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars according to the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord. And Moses took half the blood and put it in basins, and half the blood he sprinkled on the altar.”


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