Southwestern’s Tel Gezer project on cover of major archaeology magazine

A major Biblical archaeology magazine highlighted Tel Gezer, a dig sponsored by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, on the cover of its January-February 2007 edition.

The cover photo on the latest issue of Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) captured Joy Perley, a volunteer from a school in Florida, as she unearthed shards of a chalice discovered at Gezer. Steven Ortiz, co-director of Tel Gezer and associate professor of archaeology and biblical backgrounds at Southwestern Seminary, submitted the photo taken by Gary Arbino, associate professor of archaeology and Old Testament at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary..

“Biblical Archaeology Review is the premier archaeology magazine for reporting developments in the field in a way that is accessible to lay people,” Ortiz said. “Scholars, Sunday School teachers, pastors and rabbis read it. For a photo from Tel Gezer to appear on the cover heightens attention to the project as it goes into Southwestern Seminary’s inaugural season this summer.”

Inside the BAR magazine, the dig at Tel Gezer is announced among 19 other digs, offering contact information for volunteers and referring interested readers to the “special digs Web site” of the Biblical Archaeology Society: www.findadig.com.

The Web site identifies Gezer as “one of the most important sites in the northern Shephelah region of Israel.” The Shephelah is a country of low hills in Israel that runs north and south, settled between a coastal plain on its west and Israel’s central mountain range on its east.

“Gezer is a famous site in the Bible and in the discipline of biblical archaeology,” Ortiz said. “It was a natural choice for editors of Biblical Archaeology Review to use our project to highlight archaeology projects in the Middle East for the 2007 summer season.”

The 2007 dig at Gezer, which will take place June 18-July 20, is Southwestern Seminary’s first year to co-sponsor the project alongside the Israel Antiquities Authority. It is also the second year of excavations that have been renewed at Gezer after 30 years of inactivity. This summer’s dig will emphasize excavation of Solomonic-era remains running along the southeastern slope of the site’s western hill.

During last year’s dig season at Gezer, workers led by Ortiz and Sam Wolff of the Israel Antiquities Authority uncovered a large fortification system associated with the time of King Solomon. They also exposed two layers of destruction tentatively dated to the reigns of the pharaohs Merneptah and Siamun. Merneptah is noted for a stela, or pillar, from the 13th century B.C. which describes a military campaign in Palestine and contains the earliest mention of Israel outside of the Bible. Many scholars identify Siamun as the pharaoh who, according to 1 Kings 9, captured the city of Gezer and gave it to his daughter as a dowry when she married King Solomon. The Israelite king then fortified the city.

For more information on Tel Gezer or the summer 2007 excavations at the dig, contact Steven Ortiz at sortiz@gezerproject.org or check out the projects Web site: www.gezerproject.org.

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