Tel el-Jeser (Gezer) is a Canaanite city at the foothills of Judaean Mountains. It is a biblical city strategically situated between Egypt and Mesopotamia which is associated with Joshua and Solomon, making it a very important city. Excavations on the site have been going on since 1900, and it is the most excavated site in Jerusalem. However recently during the excavations, archaeologists discovered a new layer that belongs to an unknown pre-Solomonic city of the late Bronze Age.
According to archaeologists Dr Steven Ortiz and Dr Samuel Wolff, they believe that the hidden city that was found was destroyed by the Egyptians in the 18th Dynasty. Several artefacts including pottery, seals and a scarab with the cartouche of Amenhotep III were found supporting the existence of the unknown city. Amehnhotep III was the father of Akhenaten, the ‘heretic’ king and an important mysterious figure – Nefertiti was his wife and Tutankhamun his son.
The destruction of this old city is probably related to the Egyptians attacking the city or the Canaanites attacking the Egyptians on the site, professor Tallay Ornan of the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University suggests.
On the foundations of this old city, Gezer was later built by the Canaanites. According to the references in the Bible, Gezer was conquered by Egypt and later on was given to King Solomon as a wedding gift when in a clever political move he married the pharaoh’s daughter. We do not know to which pharaoh it refers to. Since King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines he would have needed an encyclopaedia to maintain all the details of his wives! Solomon had extensively fortified the city of Gezer with surrounding walls, in a similar manner that he did with all other important cities.
Excavations in biblical cities are of major importance since any kind of proof related to the Bible provides historical validity to the events that are described.
By John Black