"We have great faculty who are not just great at teaching archaeology and teaching the Bible, but they are great archaeologists."

Cameron Coyle, 2013 Field Archaeologist


History of Research

Gezer I [excavations of the early 20th century]

Gezer was first excavated by the Palestine Exploration Fund. The first phase of excavations consisted of three separate excavations by British and French archaeologists.

The first intensive exploration of Tel Gezer was conducted by R.A.S. Macalister during the years 1902-1905 and 1907-1909, under the auspices of the Palestine Exploration Fund. The results of these early excavations were published in three volumes (The Excavation of Gezer, 1912). Macalister excavated major areas of the tel destroying major areas of the site. Unfortunately, the methods of excavation were very primitive as Macalister dug the site in strips and backfilled each trench. He distinguished eight levels of occupation.

The next excavator was Raymond-Charles Weill, known for his excavations in Jerusalem before and after WWI (1913-14 and 1923-24) under the patronage of Baron Rothschild. Sometime during the course of the Jerusalem excavations, Weill excavated lands on and around Tel Gezer that were acquired by Baron Rothschild. Not much was reported on these excavations until a recent publication by Aren Maeir (Bronze and Iron Age Tombs at Tel Gezer, Israel: Finds from Raymond-Charles Weill's excavations in 1914 and 1921).

In 1934, renewed excavations were conducted under the direction of Alan Rowe under the auspices of the Palestine Exploration Society. This excavation was terminated after a short season. Only preliminary reports were produced, but the data from the excavations is available at the offices of the Palestine Exploration Fund.

Gezer II [American excavations under the auspices of Hebrew Union College]

After WWII and the founding of the modern state of Israel, archaeological fieldwork was renewed at an intense pace. The American Gezer Project began in 1964 under the auspices of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and the Harvard Semitic Museum, with Nelson Glueck and Ernest Wright as advisors. From 1966 onward, William G. Dever served as director. These are the Phase I excavations (1964-1971)of the HUC/Harvard excavations. Phase II was led by Joe D. Seger (1972-1974).

The major goals of the HUC Gezer project were 1) to re-investigate areas of R.A.S. Macalister's 1902-1909 excavations; 2) to pioneer new interdisciplinary methods of fieldwork; and 3) to train a new generation of young American archaeologists to work in Israel and Jordan. These excavations distinguished 21 stratigraphic levels from the Late Chalcolithic to the Roman period. More than 1400 staff, students, and volunteers participated and at least 20 dig directors now working in the eastern Mediterranean world were trained at Gezer. Currently, five large final report volumes have been produced with two more in advanced stages of publication ( Gezer I, II, III, IV, V and two volumes on the small finds and the Middle Bronze Age fortifications of Field IV). The main results of Phase I were 1) redating the city defenses such as Macalister's "inner wall, "outer wall," and the "Maccabean Castle;" 2) dating the famous "High Place"; 3) clarifying the Middle and Late Bronze Age domestic levels; and 4) illuminating the "Philistine" Iron Age I horizon. The results of the Phase II excavations were to investigate the city's Iron Age and later stratigraphy; 2) expand investigations of the Middle Bronze Age southern Gate in Field IV.

Gezer III [Renewed Excavations]

See Project Goals & Stategy