• Name: Paul McLerran
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Friday, January 16, 2009

Gezer: Reexamining a Renowned Archaeological Site

..........For Pharaoh King of Egypt had gone up, and taken Gezer, and burnt it with fire, and slain the Canaanites that dwelt in the city, and given it for a present unto his daughter, Solomon's wife. And Solomon built Gezer, and Bethhoron the nether............ 1 Kings 9:16-17

Among the major archaeological sites of Israel, the Tel that marks the site of ancient Gezer has already revealed much of itself to scholars. A series of excavations have shown that the 33-acre site was continuously occupied from the Bronze Age to the Hellenistic Period. During the Iron Age, according to the Biblical account, it was one of three major cities fortified under King Solomon. This makes it a key site for research concerning questions within the context of the current archaeological and scholarly debates about the nature and chronology of the rise of the ancient Israelite State and Iron Age ceramic chronology. Dr. Steven Ortiz of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Sam Wolff of the Israel Antiguities Authority, along with a consortium of universities, are investigating important questions related to these issues through renewed excavations, focusing now on the Iron Age stratigraphy of the eastern slope of the western hill where previous excavations have revealed several occupational phases of the Iron Age city. They are inviting students and volunteers to join them in this undertaking during the summer of 2009. The dig season will run from June 15 to July 17. For those interested in acquiring academic credit, this project offers a Field School that is clearly among the best that can be offered for students of archaeology of the Levant.


The Tel Gezer Excavation Project’s program contains three components:

  1. Evening classroom lectures
  2. Field School: practicum and lab; and
  3. Weekend study-travel


There are two courses (3 hours each).
History, Archaeology, and Geography of Ancient Israel (BBHST 3423 Grad; BIB1203-A Undergrad)
Archaeological Field Methods (ARCHE 4203 Grad; BIB3503-A Undergrad)
(undergraduate credit will be offered through the College at Southwestern and graduate credit will be offered through Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary).

Each week there will be four evening lectures. The lectures will cover three areas of study: History and Archaeology of Ancient Israel, Geography of the Southern Levant, and Archaeological Method and Theory.

The archaeology practicum is the core of the academic program. Five days a week students will participate in field archaeology. They will learn field excavation methods and techniques, the field recording system, daily excavation strategy, removal and conservation of material culture, section drawing and survey techniques. Four days a week students will participate in an archaeological lab where they will process material culture: ceramics, osteological data, and botanical remains.

The study travel program involves four weekends of touring the country. The regions that will be covered are Jerusalem, Coastal Plain, Shephelah, Galilee, Sea of Galilee, Golan Heights, Jezreel Valley, Dead Sea, Judean Wilderness, and the Negev. Key sites that will be visited are Caesarea, Megiddo, Sepphoris, Nazareth, Mt. of Beatitudes, Capernaum, Katzrin, Arad, Beersheva, Masada, Qumran, En Gedi, etc.

Accommodations and Meals

Volunteers sleep in air-conditioned suites, four to a suite. Each suite is self-contained with its own bathroom, television, telephone. Clean linens and towels will be provided daily. Two breakfasts will be provided on the Tel and at base camp. Lunch and dinner meals will be prepared by the hotel and served in the hotel dining room. There is free wireless internet available in the hotel lobby.

Length of Stay/Room and Board/Costs

Volunteers are encouraged to join the project for the full five weeks of the excavation season. There are a limited number of spots available, and these will be reserved for those students who can participate for the full season. However, it is possible to arrange for a minimum two week stay upon approval by the project directors. The cost for the full five weeks is $1825. Additional costs include round trip airfare to Israel, tuition, and a $600 field trip fee.


Learn, make new friends, and be a part of the adventure of discovery! Few archaeological digs in the Near Eastern region can offer this much to its participants. If you are interested, you can find detailed information about the project, including down-loadable educational/instructional documents, by going to www.gezerproject.org.

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