Tag Archives: Gezer

When is a gate not a gate? Rethinking the Lachish discovery

Last Monday, following material posted by Luke Chandler, I posted a blog here with this heading: “Have new gates been discovered at Lachish?”

Yesterday Luke posted a clarification here that was sent to him by the Fourth Lachish Expedition director Yossi Garfinkel. Garfinkel suggests that the new architectural features discovered at Lachish probably should not be called “gates.” He says there are no chambers on both sides of the opening. He says, “so we might have simple openings in the city wall rather than official gates.” The first opening had already been noted by Olga Tufnell after the first expedition at Lachish by Starkey. Tufnell said it was a “blocked Iron Age” gate. Garfinkel thinks it “is probably a Middle Bronze blocked gate.”

Prof. Garfinkel says the second opening found this year is “dated to Level I (Persian) and Level II (586 BC destruction), so this opening is not ‘Early Iron Age’ as [Chandler] wrote.”

This illustrates one of the reasons archaeologists often withhold their findings from the public until they can be more certain about what they have, and even then they point out that the findings are preliminary.

I have dabbled in archaeology enough through personal study, participation at Lachish in 1981, and attendance at the annual meetings of the professional societies fairly regularly for the past 40 years, to know that interpretations change from day-to-day, and season-to-season. Patience is recommended.

Chambered gate at Gezer. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Chambered gate at Gezer. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.


Museums and Tels

It was cloudy this morning, so we decided to visit the Eretz Israel Museum on our way from the coastal plain to Jerusalem. The Eretz Israel Museum on the campus of Tel Aviv University is built around Tel Qasile, a Philistine city established in the mid-12th century B.C. A sign at the site calls this the port city of the period of the kings and judges of Israel.

The excavation of Tel Qasile, Israel’s first archaeological dig, began in 1949 under Prof. Benjamin Mazar and uncovered three stages in the city’s history (strata XII-X). During the 10th cent. B.C.E. conquest of the region by King David, the city was destroyed by fire. Later rebuilt. It became part of the kingdom of David and Solomon (strata IX-VIII). Lebanese cedars, used to build the temple in Jerusalem, may have been transported via Tel Qasile.

Abandoned during the divided kingdom period, Tel Qasile was settled during the time of King Josiah (stratum VII) and from the Persian period to the Middle Ages (strata VI-I).

The Bible indicates that the Cedar was brought by sea to Joppa, but perhaps Tel Qasile was close enough to Joppa to have been used. It is near the Yarkon River. King Hiram is quoted as saying,

And we will cut whatever timber you need from Lebanon and bring it to you in rafts by sea to Joppa, so that you may take it up to Jerusalem. (2 Chronicles 2:16 ESV; cf. Ezra 3:7)

The museum is composed of several buildings. One has a good section on copper mining at Timna, north of Eilat. There are buildings devoted to glass, coins and stamps. Several examples of winepresses are located on the grounds. The glass museum has the finest collection of first century glass that I have seen.

Free-blown perfume bottles from 1st century A.D. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins 2009.

Free-blown perfume bottles from 1st century A.D. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins 2009.

On the way to Jerusalem we stopped by Gezer. The tel is visible from a good highway, but it is difficult to reach. It is another of those tels that can not be reached without taking dirt roads through fields. Gezer was  discovered by Clermont-Ganneau in 1871. It was first excavated by R.A.S. Macalister between 1902 and 1905. A major excavation was carried out from 1964-1974. The most recent excavation began in 2007.

This photo shows what is often called the Solomonic Gate. It is a six-chambered gate similar to those discovered at Hazor and Megiddo. You may click on the photo for a larger image suitable for use in teaching presentations.

"Solomon's Gate" at Gezer. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

"Solomon's Gate" at Gezer. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins 2009.

And this is the account of the forced labor that King Solomon drafted to build the house of the LORD and his own house and the Millo and the wall of Jerusalem and Hazor and Megiddo and Gezer. (1 Kings 9:15 ESV)

The mountains of Judea are visible in the distance. Photograhically, it was a good day.