Tel Gezer Iron Age Gate

By the Editors of the Madain Project

The southern gate of the Israelite-era city is one of the important findings on the south side of the mound (Abu Shusheh).


The six-chambered gate (illustration) at Tel Gezer, once thought built by King Solomon, however recent scholarship has cast doubt on this idea, with some scientific evidence pointing to a later date of construction. Six-chambered gates like this are also found at Tel Megiddo and Tel Hazor, Tel Lachish and like this gate their dating is controversial. Based on archaeological remains, the gatehouse at Gezer was over 45 feet wide, nearly 60 feet long, and contained three chambers on each side of the street.

Archaeological Excavations

circa 1000 BCE

Gezer was situated on an extremely strategic spot, above a coastal byway that serviced traders, warriors, and travelers for thousands of years. Stones on each side of the gate are of a classic Solomonic style called ashlar — square stones arranged in a specific manner. Only part of the gate was exposed during the first excavations at the site, carried out over a century ago by R.A.S. Macalister, who thought it was a remnant of a Maccabean palace.

Biblical Narrative

circa 1000 BCE

King Solomon fortified the three key cities of Tel Gezer, Tel Hazor, and Megiddo with huge six-chambered gates. Since these cities were at critical places on a major trade route, the Via Maris, Solomon was able to exert significant influence on the nations surrounding Israel at that time. This gate design is typical to the Iron Age II, and is commonly attributed to King Solomon. It follows the same types of gates as found in other Israelite period cities like Megiddo, Hazor, Lachish.


circa 1000 BCE

Each side of the gate is lined by three guard rooms. One of those closest to the entrance still contains a water trough (inspect) that may have serviced people, animals, or both. Another guard room is surrounded by benches, perhaps to seat judges, prophets, and others who spent time near the gate. The gate, oriented to the south, was built of large hewn limestone boulders, with two towers on its external side.

circa 1000 BCE

With the street pavement partially gone, one can see the exposed sewer channel. The sewer ran under (inspect) the street, through the city, and into the valley beyond. It drained seasonal rain and carried away sewage. The sewer emptied into the "swamp," a cesspool of refuse, animal carcasses, and even human bodies. In Jerusalem, this valley of sewage was called the Hinnon (ge-hinnom in Hebrew, from which the Greek word gehenna comes, which Jesus used to designate hell [Matt. 5:22]).

circa 1000 BCE

Some of the remains of the Israelite-era city remains can be seen on the western side of the 'Solomonic Gate'. The Gate was installed in a casemate form wall (inspect) (Hebrew: "Sogarim"), based on two parallel walls (one external and one internal), which are connected at small intervals with inner walls, thus creating chambers. Each chamber (inspect) is 5 by 1.5m (16.4ft by 4.9ft), separated by 1.5m (4.9ft) thick walls. This wall can be seen in this view stretching along the foothill, from the gate (seen on the left) towards the center background.

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