December 9, 2012

New Old Excavation Report From Gezer

In 1913/14 and 1923/24 M. Raymond Weill, professor at l'École des Hautes Études, excavated nine tombs at Gezer. They have just been published. The circumstance of the delay is horrifying; the belated publication truly wonderful. The report is in a draft thesis by Paula Silberberg-Zelwer (1892-1942), the aunt of Charles Zelwer who has posted them at the CRFJ website for all them world to see. In 1942, while still editing her manuscript, Silberberg-Zelwer, one of Weill’s assistants, was deported to Auschwitz. The first section of Silberberg-Zelwer’s thesis, Mémoire sur Gezer, d’après les fouilles de Raymond Weill de 1913-1914 et 1923-1924, deals with the history of Gezer as it was known to her and a review of the work of Clermont-Ganneau and R. A. S. MacAlister. The second part is an excavation report on the nine tombs she and Weill excavated. The whole document is made all the more wonderful by the frequent hand written revisions scattered throughout and the occasional multiple typed drafts.

Because I have an abnormal interest in Gezer, I am spenting an abnormal amount of time looking through the report on the tombs. Several things struck me but none more than the object from tomb VII in the center of her figure 52 below.

Panel from tomb VII at Gezer

Of this object Silberberg-Zelwer says:

Un Panneau – Object insolite que ce panneau rectangulaire, à anse horizontale au milieu et incliné en berceau. It mesure de 041 à 034 de large sur 035 à 033 de haut (fig. 53 [sic]) soit couvercle, soit portillon pour refermer la tombe?

[A panel – This rectangular panel (is) an unusual object; horizontal loop in the middle and inclined to source. It measures 41 (cm) to 34 in width (and) 35 to 33 in height (fig. 53 [sic]); either lid or door to close the tomb? –des]

She does not indicate its thickness. The whole pottery assemblage, including a good deal of imported wares of various kinds, from this tomb reminds me of the assemblage from the tomb(s) in Seger's Dever’s cave 10A. See Joe Seger, “Pottery” 73-90, Seger and Lance eds, Gezer V: Field I Caves (1988), 73-90. Seger Dever and company observed more than one usage phase in cave 10A. Such phasing is not documented for Silberberg-Zelwer tomb VII. So its hard to know exactly how to compare her assemblage with Seger's Dever’s. In addition, I’m very much an amateur when it comes to such things. But what struck me about this panel was how much it looked to my untrained eye like a large fragment of the lid of a ceramic (perhaps better, terracotta) sarcophagus like that found in Dever’s cave 10A. See Joe Seger, “The Sarcophagus” 73-90, Seger and Lance eds, Gezer V: Filed I Caves (1988), 114-115 and plate 77D.

Update (December 16, 2012):
In a private communication, Joe Seger politely informed me that he, not Bill Dever, discovered cave 10A. He also agrees that the panel is likely part of a larnyx box, that is a terracotta sarcophagus.

Via Jack Sasson’s Agade list. If you are a subscribe to this list see also Aren Maeir’s comments on publication.

Posted by Duane Smith at December 9, 2012 9:41 AM | Read more on Archaeology |

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