The recent excavations at Gezer included a program of radiocarbon dating, with samples spanning the end of the Late Bronze Age through much of the Iron Age. Organic materials—usually charred seeds that have a short growing period and are thus quite reliable for precision dating—were taken from various contexts, including destruction layers, ovens, bins, and floors. In the fortified and monumental city of the tenth century BCE, samples came from the floors of the large administrative building.

We have taken nearly three dozen measurements from seven successive strata to refine the site’s Late Bronze and Iron Age chronology. Using statistical methods and the stratigraphic order of the samples, we were able to obtain an accurate and precise chronology.1

The results show that the fiery destruction of the Late Bronze Age city, which the excavators ascribe to the Egyptian pharaoh Merneptah (r. 1213–1203 BCE), indeed aligns well with his southern Levantine campaign at the very end of the 13th century.

The first hint of cultural influence from Philistia occurred in the city’s next major phase, which dates to the mid- to late 12th century. Crucial for the much-debated archaeology of King Solomon, we find that the transformation toward monumental fortifications and architecture, along with the introduction of centralized administration, occurred during the first half of the tenth century and not substantially later as has been proposed by some scholars. A destruction of the well-fortified city and large administrative building occurred around the mid-tenth century, possibly due to the Levantine campaign of the Egyptian pharaoh Shoshenq I in c. 925 BCE.