My son, a distinguished Apple corporation soldier, came for a vacation in fatherland or motherland, it depends of who speaks the speech, together with family. Despite his drift during the last years into other lanes and horizons his attaches to origins are still strong and often funny. They lead sometimes to an uncontrolled preparation of hummus with tahini that may accommodate a glorious team of construction workers. Do you know many people, exempt of little, partially inoffensive, manias?
Eager to provide some food for soul, even if according to Yuval Harari’s sharp thinking, this last commodity does not really exist, I volunteered to guide the party, three children, two parents and an old man, that being me, at two of the most enticing spots of the entity known today as Israel. These were the arched pool of Ramla commissioned by the legendary Abbasid Calif Haroun al Rashid (one the famous heroes of the Arabian Nights) in 789 and the archaeological site of the Canaanite town at Tel Gezer. A fortified city, from the end of 3rd millennium BCE, with a long and rarely enough, documented history, Tel Gezer was eventually conquered by an Egyptian pharaoh in the 10th century BCE after the Israelite failed to seize it. The pharaoh, one of the 1000 fathers-in-law of King Solomon, the epitome of womanizers, who, according to biblical sources, married his daughter, used Gezer instead of cash money to endow his offspring. It seems that many rich people have an acute sparing sense while the poor are often entangled in crazy spending. To avoid a gargantuan expanse of this report I will limit it mostly to Tel Gezer and give only a few details upon the eerie pool of Ramla. Off the record, I may tell that notwithstanding my offer to guide the company, I never visited the site during the fifty years of – in and out – living in the area. Discretion requested. That bleak reality forced me to do some hasty readings in order to convince my party, especially the kids, that I know something of what I was going to speak about. Let’s hope that by the end of this post I will know a little bit more than by the beginning.
However, thanks to some blessed intuition, I chose unknowingly, two sites structurally connected. Very shortly it appeared that the waters of the enormous Ramla’s underground arched pool are in their overwhelming majority coming from Tel Gezer springs through a 12 km long aqueduct. Amazing isn’t it ? Did I say that the Ramla pool is an enthralling, fascinating and overwhelming, architectural and technological creation? If not it is high time to mention that its space and the elements defining it- vaults, pilasters, arches and strikingly transparent liquid mirror – especially the elegant, superposed arches, are assembled in such a way that they suggest concomitantly overall solidity and intrinsic lightness. As far as the construction is the matter it was so perfectly built, that during its 1200 years of existence, it remained intact through the various earthquakes that plagued the city. In conclusion, the sound articulation between function, concept and execution makes of this building an outstanding example or early Islamic architecture. Le Corbusier would adore it, should it have some light cannons! It has! The glide in tiny boats upon the pool’s wrinkle-less emerald waters across a shimmering carousel of lights and shadows offer, for a reasonable fee, to sensitive tourists a kind of time-machine ride that the original users never dreamed of! This being one, among many, of the advantages of being alive today! Cheap purified water is another one…
There is need to quiet down this outburst of enthusiasm. It seemed to me that the best way to visit such a complex archaeological site as Tel Gezer, composed of heavily manipulated ruins which often belong to various stages of occupancy going from the end of the early bronze period (circa 3300 BCE), with large lapses after major warfare destruction, into the early byzantine rule (circa 400 CE) is the BALLOON. It permits to have a fair idea of the location of the city on the top of a hill, its elaborated system of defense, the nasty bumpy road full of big holes leading to it NOW, and the apprehension of its elongated, kidney like? contour. This approach reveals also the key position of the city controlling the road from Egypt to Mesopotamia, if you are a traffic specialist, and its vicinity at north with the historic cum mythological valley of Ayalon where strange events with eventual cosmological resonance occurred during the conquest of the country by the Israelite, call them Hebrew tribes or better proto-Zionists at will. [What it will happen today, I am asking you, if suddenly any unauthorized group of people leave a country under the pretexts that they were mistreated and that the Almighty gave them some weird promises and broke into another ousting the locals or eventually killing them from time to time?] You will argue that it was then the rule but this doesn’t hold for me and I will still be very vocal against the Tibet’s occupancy! If anybody starts moving anytime that God is speaking to him/ her where we are going to finish? This, transhumance, happened if it happened around 1000 or 1100 hundred BCE or eventually a couple of centuries before (all depending to which historian school one belongs). If you lack a handy balloon, a family drone may replace it and if you are really destitute you can use like me You Tube services https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeIju0wPwxA. Do you want some more information? The Biblical Walks will be happy to furnish it https://biblewalks.com/sites/GezWer.html#IsraeliteCity. I am sure that their stuff is not more deceitful than the today media garbage which hits the peak of intoxication. Wikipedia also, will be glad to forward some more wrong and right information. In any case I don’t mean to compete with these data juggernauts. Most of the information I was gleaning it with my pineal eye. I warmly recommend it if by any chances you got one. The bottom line is except that the archaeological remains the general knowledge about Canaan is vague, blurred, approximate…Zealous shrinking should lead me to a solid, widely partisan, image of a limited subject. Then, Tel Gezer was a city state, eventually a kingdom, which developed on an earlier settlement of troglodytes. People have to live somewhere! Those ones liked caves…much better than miserable homeless who are an ecological and urban disaster… Around 2000 B.C.E. the inhabitants were Canaanites. But who were the Canaanites? The people who lived in the country of Canaan. From where they came, how many ethnic groups were accommodated by this umbrella, what language they spoke? … Nothing is known for sure or nothing is known at all, except that they were Semites and forcefully spoke one or more Semitic languages. But the Ethiopian Amharic were doing the same, four thousand kilometers away and they are still around for a while..….By the way, the Queen of Saba or Sheba, who came to Jerusalem to date king Solomon, was an Amharic lady and a first class hottie!
Tel Gezer had a privileged position, a fully-fledged mural defense, an inside water supplying system, and a complex religious shrine. It should be a pleasure to sacrifice there all kind of beasts…It was wracked and harrowed more than once by Egyptians and Assyrians and it passed in Israelite hands, quite late after the conquest of the country, in Solomon times through an obscure process. It played a pivotal role during the Maccabean, the priestly dynasty from Modiin, wars (in the 2nd cent. BCE) with Syrian Seleucid and the Jewish Hellenist party, an influential progressive group roughly corresponding the today Israeli left.
There are some hard stone early epigraphic evidence of the city existence in the cuneiform tablets of Tel el Amarna (1360-1332 BCE), and the Hamenotyhep stela (13 cent. BCE). In the Tel el Amarna clay tablets, an amazing correspondence in Akkadian cuneiform, the city of Tel Gezer is mentioned for the first time. The mysterious calendar stone found on the site and carved with early Hebrew characters marks the Israelite presence beginning by 1000 B.C.E while the boundary stone with Aramean and Greek inscriptions indicates the continuation of occupancy into the 2nd cent BCE. Whatever it will be some serious historians are denying that the Israelite invasion cum conquest really occurred while others are rightfully denouncing the massacres which accompanied it. The first issue interest me slightly, taking the into account the doubts I have of historic LORE in general while the second I consider more seriously when I remember the ferocious massacres the Greeks did any time they conquered a Greek city. Comparison of coeval terms and events (long live the naked truth etc), is the beginning of understanding, but let’s move on! Also being the historians mentioned above western flesh and bone, extracts of the twenty century prime western civilization, the provider of the most enormous bloodbath ever happened, I reckon that they should know something of what they are talking about. As a whole I do not think too much and too high of the Israelite invasion cum conquest of the country which in spite of having a divinity in their ranges led to the rise of an anemic, mini state, hardly alive, which immediately split to disappear totally after barely thousand years of m precarious existence. If there is an invasion cum migration that I really admire and consider as an outstanding example of the genre, I don’t care about ethics folks, totally representative of the archetypal human drive, where expanse, duration and continuation are combined into an harmonic iron hard active principle, then, that is the Islamic One.
Muslim Arabs as such or their version of Palestinian natives, often the same, are not mentioned in the area of Tel Gezer before the 8th century C.E. when began the MAJOR INVASION, cum immigration wave directed simultaneously towards east and west, north and south, ever known in history. The Islamic wave which continues successfully till today and seems to expand rapidly into tomorrow has some particularities that make it very different of other penetrations of the kind. It is multi-centered, not homogeneous, resilient to assimilation in new surroundings and jealously keeping the launching bases, the fatherlands, impenetrable to foreigners. Its driving force is a deep rooted subconscious construct promoting a unique paradigm of human life on earth, made of a well balanced system of tasks, rewards and punishments. Many punishments! And some lustful alas spurious rewards, for men only, in the afterlife. Happy females get everything during lifetime. It is the path of the true believer. The notion is vague but the application is tough. Take it or leave it. I leave it to return to Tel Gezer.
One gets into the site by the means of a dilapidated stairway. Time is a harsh mistress. The marches seem to have been worn to the bone. Ha!ha! Actually they look like the ribs of a giant mastodon that fell into oblivion, barely sticking out of the ground. It nevertheless accommodates one into a maze of narrow lanes and minuscule cubicles, ground to the ground, where people of lore run their life. I bet that cubicles were windowless. Do not pay any attention to it. The great attraction is the millefleurs kind of floral carpet which covers the vanished city. The term, meaning thousand flowers, basically used to designate a weaving technique and a pattern, denotes here an enticing reality. Botanic beauty and diversity is such that it alone is worth the visit. For those who the actual bucolic mantle of the city do not constitute a first magnitude issue reflecting the site’s raison d’etre and its glorious past I am eager to mention, that impressive archaeological remains are convincingly evocative of the city functionality and of the size of the engineering efforts that lead to its creation, maintenance and repeated reconstruction.A double wall, made of hewn stone blocks and mud and stones construct, was defending the city from the middle bronze period on. The inner wall was 4 meter thick and around 7 meters tall while the outer wall, curiously enough, was only 1.5 meter thick. A stone glacis was protecting the approach to it. The gate at the beginning unique (the Canaanite gate) was flanked by a huge tower and bastions. 25 other towers were guarding the imposing girdle. The gate was very much alike to those of other Canaanite cities such as Hazor and Meggido what suggests a certain homogeneity of the culture in spite of a state of continuous intestine warfare. A second, more ambitious gate, the Solomon gate, was opened on the southern side at the beginning of the Israelite occupancy. It was constructed of large hewn stone boulders, had three rooms on each side of the passage and was protected by two outer towers.The complex water system is a great indices of the rapid development of the archaic middle east societies. Yesterday people were troglodytes living in caves. A couple of centuries later they cut in rock an amazing shaft and a 70 meter long tunnel going down 40 meter to the water nape. The ceremonial center located in the north-western area of the town is even more astonishing than the liquid life line.
Composed of 13 megalith stones and a probably sacred basin is connected by shape with cultist monuments (menhirs, masseboth etc) appearing very early in prehistoric times. It seems that the Neanderthal was already fancying them and the African hominids even before him. Around 1000 BCE the cult flared in various, distant one from other places in Europe and quite inexplicably, in some of the Pacific islands. Even if there is little knowledge about the ideology which lead to the creation of the megaliths or about their sudden multiplication during a specific time horizon, there is little doubt that they were not erected by an extraterrestrial party. Our ancestors were both the constructors and “the ghouls”, sacrificing animals and for a while humans around and between them! Gods were hungry! Much later in history they shifted, Gods and priests alike, into a bio mood and limited themselves to the fruits of the earth.
Finally it is worth to mention that a couple of kilometers north of Tel Gezer, during a major fight in the valley of Ayalon, between the proto-Zionists invaders with a local coalition, the Hebrew generalissimo, Joshua, according to the bible got into a magic hocus pocus mode and summoned God to make “Sun….stand on Gideon; and Moon, in the valley of Ayalon” in order to get some extra fight time. Disturbing enough the unethical divinity (many of them are) relinquished to the blackmail. Should the actual invaders get along in our time of enlightenment with this evaporated trick again is everybody’s guess.
Not everything in Tel Gezer is dead, frozen, deteriorated. I can tell you that I have meet a gorgeous millipede, of some 14 centimeters long, shinny, black, agile waving and worming its slender body to announce that the time of the sapiens sapiens is running short.The endemic Archispirostreptus syriacus, nice name, maybe scaring, repellent, it smells like hell, but it is not venomous if he read the same books I did. If one needs a good bite better check with the centipede.
That is all revered patron, I am awfully sorry of my heretical outbursts; also of my political cum historical reflections. I began to have some doubts that I said too much or not enough…What do I know? Practically nothing of nothing! Live and leave the world alone ((which anyhow ejects a regular Joe in no time and sometime, even before). In eternam…as will Confucius say!
With infinite respect,