Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tel Gerisa

I went out alone this morning. Blacksono will be off to college next week so I was practicing being a lone Saturday morning explorer. I decided to try visit somewhere quite close and chose Tel Gerisa, which is on the edge of the Yarkon Park in Ramat Gan. You people in Israel have probably driven by this dozens of times. Here, I have included a google map (I tried including an interactive map, but for some reason it does not show the streets, so this is a jpg).

Tel Gerisa is also known as "Napoleon's Hill" as during his army's siege of Jappa they established a camp on this hill. The Yarkon River which is very close by to the north, served as a natural anchorage in ancient times and Tel Gerisa's being situated on the end of a Kurkar ridge made it the perfect port.

The Tel was originally excavated for five seasons by Eleazar Sukenik (famous for being the purchaser of the Dead Sea Scrolls as well as being Yigal Yadin's father) between 1927 and 1950. Sukenik was particularly fascinated by the Middle Bronze II (according to Mazar this is 2000-1550 BCE) fortifications which seem to have been very impressive indeed. There was a huge mud brick covered glacis (pronounced glacee - a sort of slope build in front of a city wall that prevents siege machines and burrowing) around the walls that were uncovered. This must have been a very large civic project in those days. Unfortunately, try as I did, I could not find a single trace of this glacis.

More recently (1981-83) there have been three seasons of excavations by Z. Herzog of TAU.He found the Tel had been occupied from the Early Bronze III (beginning of third millennium BCE) and followed the settlement through the various ages (Early, middle, late Bronze and then Iron). He found multiple fortifications around the middle bronze along with storage jars and cultic figurines. He also found Philistine vessels from the Iron Age levels. It is believed that during the Iron Age the settlement at Tel Gerisa was a small village near the much bigger Tel Qasile (now in the Tel Aviv Museum's gardens).

While my encyclopedia has been a big help here, there is unfortunately no map of the site that I could find, so I struggled to turn the words into a picture of what was where. The digs have long been abandoned and are overgrown. So the pictures are a bit lame, sorry.
This is the view from the top of the Tel. It's in the middle of Ramat Gan and surrounded by apartments with people having breakfast and taking their dogs out for a morning walk.
That's the Yarkon in the distance behind the trees. So we are looking to the north here.
This is what remains of the water system that Sukenik found. It is an impressive shaft 6 meters wide cut into the Kurkar. Steps are cut into the side of the shaft and are just visible under the log (overgrown with weeds).Pot sherds dating to Iron Age I were found in the sides of the well and the shaft cut into the rock. So once again we see that water was what it was all about in those early days (as it is today).
I could not help looking off the edge of the Tel at the buildings in the distance and imagining what it would have looked like around four thousand years ago without buildings and just a huge city wall and some mud brick houses. Above are what I think is the excavated remains of domestic dwellings (I could be totally wrong, but they looked nice and square to me, I suppose they could have been store rooms). Below is the view from the Tel looking south towards the diamond exchange area.
I suppose I should get used to going out on my own. Maybe it's time to take up some of the offers I have for company.


oliviao said...

A little bit of empty nest beginning???It seems so long when they are growing up, but alas we only borrow them for 18 years!

AvyT said...

Good work Peter. I will surely visit on one of my unlimited days off.

And don't worry! Now you'll have an excuse to travel down south a lot and dig up the desert; Tel Beersheva, Tel Arad and I'm sure many more.

Anonymous said...

Tel Gerisa was my official "hafira limodit". The glacis san be seen if you approach from a side street in Ramat Gan. One day Herzog will get around to publishing the excavation!