Touring Tel Gezer


The best way to reach Tel Gezer is from Karme Yosef. Drive along the road that runs south from Karme Yosef’s small commercial center. At the end of the road, continue along the dirt road with red trail markings until it intersects with a dirt road with green trail markings. Follow the green trail markings and the signs to the top of the tell.
A path leads to a viewpoint on the tell’s summit. The path continues from there towards the area by the waterworks. It is possible to descend into the water system to the beginning of the tunnel via metal steps. Work is underway to enable visitors to enter the tunnel itself and walk along the entire length of it. South of the tunnel are large fortifications; the path leads from them to the city gate dated to Canaanite times, which has been preserved to an impressive height. The water system was built to the left of the gate and apparently was connected to it in some way.
The path continues from the gate alongside the city walls to the area where there is another gate and a building, referred to as the palace, from Israelite times. When this gate was first discovered, in R. A. S. Macalister’s excavation, only its western part was uncovered and it was identified as a Hasmonean fortress. When Yigael Yadin was excavating Hazor, he suggested that the biblical verse about king Solomon’s fortifications at Gezer, Megiddo, and Hazor hints that identical fortifications were built for all three cities. After the discovery of a gate attributed to Solomon at Megiddo, Yadin marked the outline of the gate that he expected to find on the ground at Hazor; his proposed gate was the same height and design as the one at Megiddo. When the workers excavated the area that he had marked, they were amazed to discover that the gate at Hazor was indeed almost identical to the Megiddo gate. That prompted Yadin to search for a matching gate at Gezer. After studying the excavation reports for Gezer, he realized that the structure that had been identified as a Hasmonean fortress actually was half of the gate. An excavation of the site soon proved that Yadin was correct and the so-called fortress actually was part of a gate that was amazingly similar to those at Megiddo and Hazor and might be from the time of Solomon. That said, today some are questioning the dating of all three gates to that period.
Shortly after the gate was built, in the middle of the tenth century BCE, the level of the road leading to the gate was changed. A drainage tunnel was built under the gate and the level of the gate was raised. This addition can be seen clearly thanks to excavations of the site. To the west of the gate is a large palace that has been identified as being from the time of the united monarchy or of Solomon.
The path continues from the gate around the tell to a viewpoint built on an ancient fortification at the tell’s northeastern corner. This spot offers a nice view of the valley of Lod, the Ayalon Valley, and the Jerusalem mountains, clearly illustrating Gezer’s strategic importance.
The path then begins to lead back to the west side. On the way, it passes the high place: a large, flat elevated area that has 10 monoliths arranged in a row on top of it. West of the line is another stone that resembles a large basin that might have been the base for another monolith. Macalister dated the high place to the Middle and Late Bronze Age. Later excavations, in 1968, concluded that the monoliths were erected in the Middle Bronze Age II and that this was a cultic site that might have been connected to a ceremony renewing an alliance between tribes or city states.
The path continues westward to the highest point at the tell, which offers an impressive view of the surroundings. An environmental sculpture was erected at this spot; it incorporates woodwinds that sway in the wind. From this viewpoint, it is a short walk back to the car.
Drive down from the tell along the same trail with green markings. Upon reaching the intersection with the trail marked in red, turn left instead of returning to Karme Yosef. Follow the trail around the tell to the Ein Vered Spring, hidden in a clump of trees. The trees conceal a small, round pool with water that is as much as 1.5-meters deep in winter and half a meter in summer. The plastered pool once was home to banded newts (triturus vittatus in Latin and triton hapasim in Hebrew). After fish were put in the pool a few years ago, the newts began to disappear. The fish have since died and so today there are no fish in the pool either.
Macalister excavated at this spot also, uncovering a Roman bathhouse, which has since been covered up, and a handsome Roman springhouse. Northwest of the spring is the ancient cemetery of the city of Gezer.
In 716 CE, a 10-kilometer-long aqueduct was built from here and from the springs of Abu Shusha, which have since dried up, to carry water to Ramla. It most likely was built by Ramla’s founder, Umayyad caliph Suleiman ibn ‘Abd al-Malik.
The spring and the area around it are dedicated to Itai Steinberger, who grew up at Karme Yosef and was killed during the Second Lebanon War at the age of 21. His friends and family decided to commemorate him by creating a path from the spring to Tel Gezer that runs through orchards and passes an ancient olive press and cisterns before ending near a viewpoint at the tell.
The red-marked trail continues from the spring to Kfar Bin Nun, but taking it is not recommended since the trail becomes stony and very difficult to drive along in a regular car. The best option is to return up the hill to Karme Yosef. In winter, the descent from Tel Gezer to the spring can be slippery and difficult to drive on (particularly during the ascent on the return journey) and it is best to descend to the spring on foot.

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