Tel Gezer has been extensively excavated over the past century (Macalister R.A.S. 1912. The Excavation of Gezer, 1902–1905 and 1907–1909, Vols. I–III. London; Dever W.D., L.H. Darrel, G.E. Wright, J.D. Seger and S. Gitin 1970, 1974, 1986, 1988, 1990. Gezer I–V. Jerusalem). The immediate vicinity of Tel Gezer has been investigated by R.A.S. Macalister who noted over 200 archaeological features within 1.5 km of the tell (Macalister 1912 III: Pl. VIII). In recent years, A. Shavit conducted a survey of the entire Gezer Map. Shavit noted that his survey was intensive but he was selective in the surveyed areas. He surveyed the regions to the southwest, south, and southeast of Tel Gezer with lower intensity (Shavit A. 2000. Settlement patterns in the Ayalon Valley in the Bronze and Iron Ages. Tel Aviv 27:189–230; Map of Gezer (82). Archaeological Survey of Israel). The Ayyalon Valley survey has found evidence indicating several satellite towns/villages surrounding Gezer from the Early Bronze through the Iron Ages.
Research Methodology
During the first five seasons, the survey has covered approximately 55% of the area within 1 km of Tel Gezer. To date, 1260 features have been recorded during the current investigations. Features are defined as any individual cultural element deposited on, built on, or carved into the landscape. Therefore, with features such as winepresses, which include a basin, vat, channel, and cupmarks, each individual feature was added to the total and thus, the number of sites can be reduced significantly. Material culture, such as pottery and mosaic tesserae, is collected when associated with a feature, but only counted as a feature when found in a definable concentrated surface scatter. Some of the surveyed features (Table 1) were also noted by Macalister at the beginning of the twentieth century, although his maps are not usably accurate.
Table 1. Surveyed features.
Features Surveyed
Stone structure
Tombs, shaft
Tombs, rock-cut
     With stairs      
Unfinished tomb entry
        With worked entry
        Modern blasting hole in ceiling    
Burial caves
Installations (A)
Cisterns, Rock-cut
Oil Presses
Wine/Oil Press Features (B)
     Press surfaces
Quarries/Quarrying marks
Dressed Stones
Rock Cutting(s)
Floor, Mosaic
Pottery Scatters
Pottery – field collected (C)
Stone Heaps
Tesserae scatters
Flint scatters
Flint blade
Modern Elements
Unknown (D)
Total Features
(A) Installations are defined as either multi-use bedrock areas that have multiple features/loci, such as cisterns, press features, vat, quarrying, tombs, or they are one bedrock-cut feature that is indeterminate in function, such as either quarrying versus a press surface. The category “unknown” is left for features which in our determination do not fit into any of the normal categories.
(B) We have found fewer whole winepresses/oil presses, but have found many single features of the same. The interpretation of these is difficult and in order not to overreach interpreting their function, in 2009, we began listing these as wine/oil press features until further analysis can be done.
(C) When pottery was collected within a Field and was not a concentrated “scatter” and not tied to a feature, we took a GPS location within the middle of the field and noted the distance to its sides, such as pottery within 50 m.
(D) Two drill marks, one or more walls (indeterminate), one or more stone heaps, and possibly one cave damaged due to road construction on the northern slope of Karmē Yosef.
We were able to match several of our features to photographs, drawings and descriptions in Macalister’s published notes. These include Macalister’s Olive-Press f (survey site L2-0073-81), Tomb No. 8 (survey site L2-0002), Tomb No. 9 (survey site L2-0004), Tomb No. 147 (survey site L3-0006), and Tomb No. 164 (survey site L3-0070). Of the 75 tombs and burial caves surveyed, L3-0006 and L3-0070 are the most elaborate.Only the southernmost two chambers are accessible today for L3-0006, with eight sunken trough burial places. However, at the time of Macalister’s exploration, five chambers were accessible with a total of 18 burial niches, a mix of both arcosolia and sunken troughs. The tomb also has an embossed wreath and bulls’ head decoration above the entrance to the rearmost burial chamber, as well as graffiti from the First World War, which reads “P. Cooney MSC 18/11/17”. Survey site L3-0070 consists of two chambers with four arcosolia (width 1.34 m), niches for lamps and at least two sunken troughs, which are in poor condition (Fig. 1). Macalister’s illustrations of pottery recovered from Tomb 147 (L3-0006) resemble forms from the Roman–Byzantine periods, which the tomb plan also fits (Fig. 2; Macalister 1912, I:355–358; III: Pls. CIV, CV). Unfortunately, Tomb 164 (survey site L3-0070) was found robbed and empty, even in Macalister’s time, although the tomb plan fits between the Hellenistic and Byzantine periods (Macalister 1912, I:368; III: Pl. LVII).
Forty-one tombs were accessible for interior survey. Seven basic categories of tomb type have been encountered during the survey. These include tombs with irregularly shaped interior plans (6), simple bench-style tombs (4), arcosolium or recessed bench tombs (5), a distinct simple double arcosolia type (5), loculus or kokhim tombs (9), tombs with multiple styles (3), and tombs that are incomplete, partially filled, or otherwise do not fit into the above categories (9). Due to the fact that few tombs contained any material culture, tombs could only be relatively dated by plan typology. These tentative assumptions are confirmed or adjusted as our research progresses, depending on datable associated material culture or other contextual aids. Irregular tombs and simple bench tombs are assumed to be earlier in date, possibly Bronze Ages through Iron Age I (Hallote R. 2001. Death, Burial, and Afterlife in the Biblical World. Chicago. Pp. 82–86). Simple bench-style tombs, which were typically irregular in shape, but with the addition of cut benches along the walls, are assumed to primarily date to Iron Age I (Bloch-Smith E. 2002. Life in Judah from the Perspective of the Dead. Near Eastern Archaeology 65/2:120–121). Arcosolium and loculus tombs are considered to date to the Hellenistic through Byzantine periods, during which they were most common (Hachlili R. 2005. Jewish Funerary Customs, Practices and Rites in the Second Temple Period. Boston. Pp. 67, 69; McRay J. 1994. Tomb Typology and the Tomb of Jesus. In Archaeology in the Biblical World 2, pp.  38–39). Some tombs appear to span two periods, having been added to or modified with a later niche or tomb plan style. The sparse potsherds recovered vary in date and type, with the exception of the arcosolium and recessed bench style tombs. Only pottery from the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman periods was recovered from tombs of this style.
The majority of the tombs discerned during the present project have either been previously excavated or looted, leaving little to no material culture within or around the tomb. One tomb with an irregular plan showed signs of recent looting, including buckets, a screen, a 1.5 m deep pit in the silt floor, and broken Iron Age and Late Bronze Age discarded pottery. Several tombs are filled in with soil, covered by rubble from ceiling collapse, or blocked with boulders during the modern era, and thus were inaccessible at the time of survey.  
Wine and Oil Presses
To date, 60 oil and winepresses were documented in the regional survey, the majority of which have not been preserved complete. From these, 35 pressing installations can be typologically classified. These installations naturally divide into four types based on mechanism, and multiple subtypes can be delineated within several of these classifications. A number of these installations had been previously documented by Macalister. One installation that correlates with Macalister’s work is Survey Site L4-0052 (Macalister 1912, II:61; Fig. 3). It is a well-preserved circular olive crushing basin (diam. 2 m, height c. 0.2 m) with a shallow sunken socket, comparable to Frankel’s type T31 (Frankel R. 1999. Wine and Oil Production in Antiquity in Israel and Other Mediterranean Countries. Sheffield. Pp. 68–72). The basin is hewn into the limestone bedrock and is therefore stationary. The relation of L4-0052 to two nearby pressing features, L4-0003 and L4-0053, will be explored in the future; it is possible that the three features can be understood as a single installation.
Another type of oil pressing feature is characterized by a small round pressing surface, which is encircled by a shallow drain that flows to a collecting cup-mark or vat (cf. Type T114 in Frankel 1999:57). An example of this type is L4-0074 (Fig. 4). It features a pressing surface (diam. 0.37 m), encircled by a drain (width 0.05 m). This drain connects with two cup-marks via separate channels. The first cup-mark (diam. 0.25 m, depth 0.12 m) connects with the drain via a channel (length 0.24 m, width 0.04 m). The second cup-mark is slightly smaller (diam. 0.18 m, depth 0.1 m). This cup-mark is connected to the drain by a shorter channel (length 0.08 m, width 0.04 m). Such a press would have been used for small-scale oil production; a similarly sized, portable analogy has been documented by Frankel (1994. Ancient Oil Mills and Presses in the Land of Israel. In History and Technology of Olive Oil in the Holy Land. Arlington. P. 29).
Most numerous among the types distinguished to date are simple installations, consisting of a threading surface and a collection vat (Fig. 5); such installations constitute over 60% of the total identified thus far. It is our hope that an analysis of the prevalence and distribution of these types, supplemented by examples excavated on the tell, will allow for a reconstruction of the oil and wine industries at Tel Gezer and perhaps, its relation to that of the larger Ayyalon region.
Patterns of Distribution
The majority of tombs, caves, and presses surveyed between 2008 and 2011 are located in undisturbed, exposed limestone outcrops to the south and east of the tell. Such tombs occur with much less frequency to the north and west. This distribution seems reasonable when viewed along with the higher occurrence of limestone outcrops in these areas. However, it may actually result from the fact that the land to the north and west of Tel Gezer has been more significantly impacted by agricultural activities, including field clearing, rock removal, and plowing, thus possibly damaging and removing the majority of tombs, which might otherwise have been found there. In fact, a few locals have already discussed their memories of wells and springs that are now buried beneath crop fields.
While modern and old disturbances could have easily hidden the existence of tombs, caves, and presses where agricultural land now stretches, the ploughed fields and orchards now offer excellent surface visibility and provide ample opportunity to observe and collect pottery, tesserae, and chert flake scatters, which would otherwise have been obscured by dense brush. 
Most of the cut or field-dressed stones recorded in the surveys occur immediately to the northeast and east of the tell. It does not seem unreasonable to conclude that these stones were once part of the construction of the city of Gezer.
We are aware of some potential biases in our gathering of information at this point. One is the above mentioned alteration of agricultural fields to the north and west of the tell. Another bias lies with the fact that ploughed fields offer much higher rates of visibility for material culture, such as pottery, lithic flakes or tools, and mosaic tiles. Such finds are scarce in fallow fields or on hill slopes covered with vegetation. Hill slopes and undisturbed areas with poor surface visibility are much better for finding features carved into limestone outcrops. Therefore, our findings may be skewed and patterns of distribution are at least partially based on modern development. Our extrapolation of data based on such finds should therefore be applied in a general sense, relating to the overall vicinity of Gezer rather than to making conclusions about particular “districts” or areas around the tell. The largest, most intact and most easily identifiable potsherds have been of Roman-Byzantine ware and later styles, especially the ridged body sherds. Few early diagnostic forms have been retrieved.
 We have also seen some modern vineyards and orchards on the slopes of Tel Gezer, which have had soil added and spread on top as much as a meter thick in places. Therefore, the inferences we can draw from surface finds are limited in respect to time and culture. Future implementation of methods, such as shovel test pits (0.3×0.3×1.0 m) may alleviate this bias. So far, the most expedient method of finding earlier potsherds and other material culture has been thorough examination of protected settings with good surface visibility, such as caves, cisterns, tombs (in cases where looters or previous excavators have left behind “scraps”), and some of the deeper basin or vat features associated with winepresses. In one instance, during the 2010 survey season, a sizeable fragment of an Iron Age chalice was recovered from the surface of a cave floor.
The results of the 2007–2011 Tel Gezer Survey seasons have been encouraging in terms of both artifacts and features documented, as well as total area covered. At the current rate, it is estimated that two to three additional seasons will be necessary to complete surveying a 1 km radius around Tel Gezer. Our goal for the future is to publish a catalog of features within our survey area, as well as articles on the tombs and presses of Tel Gezer. At the end of the project, we will analyze all our GPS location data for features and artifacts from every season via mapping software. Using this data, we can construct a clearer understanding of distribution patterns for various features, as well as draw wider conclusions about the use of the land around the ancient city of Gezer.