One of the most interesting archaeological sites in Israel is Tel Gezer. Gezer is situated along the eastern branch of the International Highway (aka The Via Maris) and guards the entrance to the Central Hill Country (territory of Benjamin and Jerusalem and to the north Ephraim). It is mentioned 14 times in the Old Testament and was of such importance that it was fortified by King Solomon.
Here is the account of the forced labor King Solomon conscripted to build the LORD’S temple, his own palace, the supporting terraces, the wall of Jerusalem, and Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer. (NIV; 1 Kings 9:15).
After discovering six-chamber gates at Megiddo and Hazor, that were dated to the days of Solomon, Yigal Yadin suggested that William Dever, in the 1960’s the excavator of Gezer, reopen R.A.S. Macalister’s so-called “Maccabean Palace” that looked like it might actually be another six-chamber gate—like those at Megiddo and Hazor (1 Kings 9:15).
The six-chamber gate that is located on the south side of Tel Gezer.
View looking south at the area of the “Solomonic Gate” on the south side of the mound of Gezer. The area at the bottom of the image is inside the ancient city, while the top half of the image is outside the city.
In the center of the image an ancient drain is visible that led water and waste out of the city — draining from bottom to top of the image. The drain runs right through the center of the city gate — it was of course covered with paving stones in ancient times.
If you look carefully, you will notice that stone foundation walls on one side of the gate are matched by foundation walls on the other side of the gate. There were actually three rooms on each side of the gate — yielding a total of six “rooms” in the gate area. Traffic in and out the city traveled on a paved street, which was above the drain.
According to the initial thoughts of the excavator, Dr. William Dever, the gate dates to the period of King Solomon (970–931 B.C.). From 1 Kings 9:15 note how Solomon fortified Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer.
William Dever (right) hosting Yohanan Aharoni (center) at Gezer in the spring of 1967 when we were digging at Gezer. This was the beginning of the re-investigation of the “Solomonic Gate.”
Steve Ortiz and Sam Wolff are currently excavating structures to the west of the gate. One of their goals is to attempt to clarify the dating of the six-chamber gate.