The Solomonic Gate at Gezer

Questions arise regarding Gezer’s so-called Solomonic gate


A Solomonic gate stands at Gezer—or does it? Legendary archaeologist and former Gezer dig director William Dever thought so. That Gezer was home to a Solomonic gate was not questioned in the 1970s by the Hebrew Union College excavation team. So why have Steve Ortiz and Sam Wolff returned to Gezer, and why are they questioning whether its famous gate should be considered a Solomonic gate?The answer is simple: The renewed excavation—now in its seventh season—does not want to make any assumptions from the past or bring in any preconceived ideas as the directors undertake their exploration. This includes the terminology Ortiz and Wolff use to refer to the six-chambered, Iron Age city gate at Gezer. In their Archaeological Views column “In the Shadow of Solomon (and Everyone Else)” in the July/August 2015 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, excavation codirectors Steve Ortiz and Sam Wolff describe the fresh questions they are bringing to the famous site of Gezer.

In 1871 Gezer was first identified by Charles Clermont-Ganneau, but the first excavation did not take place until 1902 when Robert Alexander Stewart Macalister began a seven-year large-scale project under the sponsorship of the Palestine Exploration Fund. From 1964–1974 G. Ernest Wright, William Dever and Joe Seger staged another excavation using more modern archaeological methods on behalf of Hebrew Union College and the Harvard Semitic Museum. William Dever returned to the site, this time sponsored by the University of Arizona, in 1984 and 1990. Both Ortiz and Wolff were part of one of these earlier excavation teams and are familiar with the conclusions drawn by them.

Before commencing this renewed expedition to Gezer, Wolff and Ortiz invited William Dever to the site to talk about its history and ruminate about its future. However, this conversation was not intended to dictate the upcoming investigation. “Bill is a legendary archaeologist—we respect him and his thoughts,” state Ortiz and Wolff, “but this was our project, and we had our own research agenda; different questions are being asked today than in the 1960s and 1970s.” These new questions provide the focus for the renewed excavations.

While maintaining a strong connection to the past, and a respect for those who have come to Gezer before them—both ancient and modern—Wolff and Ortiz will not be taking anything for granted. They intend to be fresh eyes for a fresh approach to an old site.

For more on Steve Ortiz and Sam Wolff’s process for excavating at Gezer, read the full Archaeological Views column “In the Shadow of Solomon (and Everyone Else)” in the July/August 2015 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.



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