The tel (mound) of the Biblical city of Gezer is located on the western slopes of the Judean Hills, midway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Built on a hill overlooking the fertile Ayalon Valley, the importance of this city was its strategic location at the intersection of the road from Egypt, along the coastal plain northward, and the road leading to the Judean Hills and Jerusalem. The ancient name of Gezer is preserved in the Arabic name of the tel: Tel el-Jazari. Verification of the site comes from Hebrew inscriptions found engraved on rocks, several hundred meters from the tel. These inscriptions from the 1st century BCE read "boundary of Gezer."
The tel covers an area of over 30 acres. Part of this area was excavated between 1902-1909, when archeology was still in its infancy, and caused considerable damage to the site. Since the 1960s, new excavations have been conducted in several areas of the tel. The rich finds discovered in these excavations attest to the importance of the city in antiquity and constitute a unique contribution to the study of past material cultures of the Land of Israel.
Inhabitants of the first settlement established at Tel Gezer, toward the end of the 4th millennium BCE, lived in large caves cut into the rock. At the beginning of the Early Bronze Age (beginning of the 3rd millennium BCE), there existed an unfortified settlement covering the entire area of the tel. Following its destruction in the middle of the 3rd millennium BCE, the tel was abandoned for several hundred years.
Then, in the Middle Bronze Age (first half of the 2nd century BCE), Gezer became one of the foremost cities in the Land of Israel. The entire tel was surrounded by a massive wall constructed of large blocks of stone 4 m. wide, with strong towers erected at intervals along it. This fortification wall (known as the "inner wall") was protected on the outside by an earthen rampart some 5 m. high, consisting of compacted alternating layers of chalk and earth covered with plaster. The city gate was located near the southwestern corner of the wall and consisted of two towers and three pairs of pilasters on which wooden gates were mounted (as was common in that period).
At the center of the northern part of the tel was an unusual cultic area. A row of ten monolithic stone steles - the tallest 3 m. high - stood at its center, oriented north-south. A large, square, stone basin that has been interpreted as serving for libations in cultic ceremonies, was found in front of one of the steles. This is a unique Canaanite temple of mazzeboth (standing stones), both in terms of the number of steles and their size. The researchers suggest that the stones represent the city of Gezer and nine other Canaanite cities; rituals related to a treaty between these cities were probably performed here. The Canaanite city at Gezer was destroyed in a violent conflagration, traces of which were found in all excavation areas of the tel. It is assumed that the destruction was the result of the campaign of the Egyptian pharaoh Thutmose III.
The importance of Bronze Age Gezer (2nd millennium BCE), is attested to in the many references to the city in Egyptian sources. In an inscription of Thutmose III, Gezer is mentioned as being conquered from the Canaanites in his campaign in 1468 BCE. In the archives of el-Amarna in Egypt, dating from the 14th century BCE, there are ten letters from the kings of Gezer, assuring loyalty to the Egyptian pharaoh whose vassals they were.
The Late Bronze Age (second half of the 2nd millennium BCE) is represented by a wealth of finds, many imported from the Aegean islands, Cyprus and Egypt, from both within the city and in tombs. During this period, a new fortification wall was erected around the city (the "outer wall"), which was some 1,100 m. long. This wall, 4 m.-thick, was constructed outside the earlier wall, on lower ground. This is one of the only fortifications known in the Land of Israel from the Late Bronze Age, providing further proof of the special political status of Gezer in southern Canaan during the period of Egyptian rule. In the 14th century BCE, a palace building was constructed on the high western part of the tel, its acropolis. It appears to have had two storeys; its walls were built of stone and covered with white plaster and in the courtyard were water cisterns. Remains of another large structure, probably the house of the governor of Gezer, were found in the northern part of the tel. Toward the end of the Bronze Age, the city declined and its population diminished. The victory stele of Merneptah (from the end of the 13th century BCE) for the first time specifically mentions "Israel" as a nation, which was defeated and goes on Canaan was plundered and Gezer was captured. Clear evidence of the Egyptian destruction of Gezer was found in the remains of the town.