a medium-sized mound (2.6 ha or 6.5 acres) located in the Yarkon valley at the fork of the Yarkon and Ayalon Rivers (32° 05′ N, 34° 48′ E). This location suggests that the site served as a main harbor city during the Middle and Late Bronze Ages. The modern Hebrew name of the site is adapted from the Arabic name of a small nearby village. It is also known by the local population as Napoleon's Hill, a name confirmed by Jacotin's map (prepared by Napoleon's engineer during their campaign to Palestine In 1799). The site is marked as the location of a military camp under the command of one of Napoleon's generals. Topographically, the mound forms a saddle, with the southern summit higher than the northern one. A deep depression on its western side is undoubtedly the location of the city gate. On the opposite side, on the east, the kurkar bedrock is exposed, apparently the result of continuous quarrying for building material. Benjamin Mazar identified the site with the Levitical city of Gat-Rimon (Maisler [Mazar], 1950–1951), but this identification is negated by geographic considerations and because the only find for the tenth century BCE was a small farmstead (Rainey, 1987–1989). [See Farmsteads.]
The site was excavated by an expedition from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, directed by Eleazar L. Sukenik for five seasons spread over twenty-five years (1927–1951). No excavation report was published, but a short summary of the work, written by Nahman Avigad (1976), is available. In 1976 Yigael Yadin and Shulamit Geva cut a small probe into the remains exposed in the 1951 season and concluded that the city wall and its glacis had been erected during Middle Bronze IIB period (Geva, 1982). Exploration of the site was renewed In 1981 by a Tel Aviv University expedition directed by Ze'ev Herzog. By 1993, nine seasons had been conducted in four areas, A–D (Herzog, 1993). The eleventh season was scheduled to begin In June 1995.
The earliest occupation of the site took place in the Early Bronze Age, remains of which were found in the stratigraphic trench cut at the southern end of the mound (area A) and in area C. In both cases shallow depressions in the kurkar contained EB III pottery sherds in an ashy debris, pointing to an agricultural settlement. An unfortified village was also erected early in Middle Bronze IIA, whose remains consist of walls belonging to residential units and a circular clay silo. The first fortified city was erected in the second occupational phase of this period. The earliest city wall (1.70 m wide) was made of mud bricks laid on a single course of stone foundations. Two floors, the lowest covered by a thick layer of burnt debris, join this wall inside the city, and a sloped glacis is laid against its outer face. A second MB IIA city wall (2.20 m wide), made solely of clay bricks, was erected about 90 cm farther into the city. Two floors were also laid against this wall; the upper one contained pottery typical of the period's latest phase. On its outer side a new and formidable glacis was erected out of sloping brick layers, with a coating of crushed kurkar. Area A's high elevation, the thick walls found there, and some luxurious pottery vessels all suggest that this was the location of the ruler's palace.
During MB IIB, a third fortification system was constructed. A 3-meter-wide brick wall was built above the earlier remains, and a third glacis was laid over the solid remains of the former ones. Inside the city a large building abutted the city wall, which contained four square rooms and a long corridor. Many large storage jars were found smashed on the floors of the rooms, indicating that the rooms had been used as storehouses. The city wall was reused in the Late Bronze Age I, but then only small rooms of a domestic nature were built against it. The ruler's palace was apparently moved to the lower part of the city.
During one of the MB subphases—the only period in which the city was fortified—a water system was constructed at Tel Gerisa. The project's impressive remains consist of a circular shaft (6 m in diameter) hewn into the kurkar (see figure 1). Narrow stairs were carved out of the rock along the side of the shaft that descend to the water source, about 22 m below the top of the shaft. So far only the upper 5 m have been exposed. The shaft was converted into a stone-lined well, with space between the well and the original hewn shafted filled in, in the Iron Age I (see below).
Excavation exposed widespread LB remains at the center of the mound (area C), in an area unoccupied in later periods. Its main feature is a large (17 × 16 m), square building located in the center of the tell, directly in front of the city-gate area. The building features a stone-paved courtyard of similar size adjacent to it on the north. The building, whose outer walls are 1.90 m thick is divided into three rows of rooms. The large room in the central row might have been a throne room. The building was artificially elevated by a fill of sandy red soil and retained by a stone revetment. To the west of the palace, immediately south of the presumed location of the city gate, a large open space was covered with thick white plaster. This area and the structure around it are interpreted as the local marketplace, a function supported by the large quantities of Mycenaean and Cypriot imported vessels, Egyptian scarabs and pottery, and several weights found on and around the plastered floor.
There was no LB city wall at Tel Gerisa. The easternmost walls in area C were constructed over the remains of the MB IIB city wall. Most of the site, except for the palace, was covered by domestic buildings in the LB IIB period, as revealed by the small probes cut into those levels (under the Iron Age I remains) in areas B and D. A large refuse pit, found full of ashy debris, had been dug into the debris of the older acropolis (area A).
During the Iron Age the size of the settlement at Tel Gerisa was considerably reduced. The remains of the Iron I settlement consist of dwellings and storage pits at both the southern and the northern summits of the mound. The center of the mound was not settled and may have been used for horticulture. It has been suggested by Tsvika Tsuk, excavator of the water system, that the well built into the old water system was constructed to irrigate the cultivated plots. The settlements belonged to two separate small villages or farmsteads, each rebuilt several times during the period. Philistine sherds of monochrome (Late Mycenaean III:CIb) ware, bichrome pottery, and late red-slipped wares indicate occupation of the site during Iron IB. The central site of Philistine occupation in the region was at Tell Qasile, located 1.5 km across the Yarkon River. [See Philistines, article on Early Philistines; Qasile, Tell.]
Sukenik's expedition cleared a large part of the settlement at the southern end of the site. Remains exposed by the renewed excavations consisted of two houses with stone bases that had held wooden columns as internal partitions. One of the houses had been destroyed by fire. In the destruction layer among the finds recorded were ceremonial pottery vessels and a pair of small bronze cymbals. Nearby a carved five-sided pyramidal seal and a female pillar figurine were found. The occupation on the northern end had been poorer, and in its final stage contained mainly deep storage pits, eventually reused for garbage.
In Iron IIA the occupation at Tel Gerisa was even more limited and was restricted to the southern summit. Remains of a single domestic building were exposed right under the surface. The house had been used in two phases, both dated to the tenth century BCE. Following the destruction of the last phase, the site was deserted for two millennia. Habitation was renewed at the northern end of mound for a short time in the Early Arab period (tenth century CE).
- Avigad, Nahman. “Jerishe Tell.” In Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, vol. 2, pp. 575–578. Engelwood Cliffs, N.J., 1976.
- Geva, Shulamit. Tell Jerishe: The Sukenik Excavations of the Middle Bronze Age Fortifications. Qedem, vol. 15. Jerusalem, 1982.
- Herzog, Ze'ev. “Gerisa, Tel.” In The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, vol. 2, pp. 480–484. Jerusalem and New York, 1993.
- Maisler [Mazar], Benjamin. “The Excavations at Tell Qasile: Preliminary Report.” Israel Exploration Journal 1.2 (1950–1951): 61–76.
- Rainey, Anson F. “Tel Gerisa and the Danite Inheritance” (in Hebrew). Eretz-Israel Museum Yearbook: Israel—People and Land 5–6 (1987–1989): 59–72.