Gezer Tablet (Formally Calendar) 840 BCE

For translation methodology see: How to Translate Alphabetic Akkadian Texts

The Gezer tablet (mistakenly called the Gezer Calendar) is now on display at the Istanbul Archaeological Museum.  It was found in September 1908 during the first archaeological dig at Gezer by R.A.S. Macalister who could not give it any archaeological date. It is read from right to left. The red letter assignments were added by Olmsted. Photo by Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin via Wikimedia Commons at:,_early_iron_age,_10th_century_BCE,_Museum_of_Archaeology,_Istanbul,_Turkey.jpg

Gezer Tablet's  Students Talk-About Astrological Powers (840 BCE)

(May 14, 2023) Put some Israelites and Philistines together in a room discussing the cause of a drought and this is the result. Slightly different line by line letter styles indicates many lines were written by different people. The themes of these lines can be classified as either Israelite or Phoenician.  Phoenician texts are always supportive of magical motion powers and so blame droughts on the life powers. This is in contrast to the Israelites who were anti-magic and instead always supportive of the life powers. The middle of the road position was that of the Aegeans/Philistines who supported both but were against mixing them inappropriately.

Translation in Akkadian (Levant Text 2)

(read right to left. Capital letters on stone. Samll letters are inferred Inner vowels. Verbs are italic bold)
  1. IRu ḪaNu ASu Pu. IRu aWȗ
  2. Re'u Gi IRu. Ḫu KaLu Qu Ṣu. 
  3. IRu Ḫ’u Ša. Du Lu NaTu. 
  4. IRu ḪaQu Ša. Ru IṢu Pu. 
  5. IRu ḪaQu Ša. Ru U Tu Gi Mu. 
  6. IRu ḪaWȗ Zu MuRu. 
  7. IRu ḪaQu Ša

In English

  1. (Israelite Person 1) Astrological-powers are intimidating the Healer's (sun god Hu) openings. Astrological-power's are howling.
  2. (Israelite Person 1) The shepherds (magic crafters) are energizing the astrological-powers. Hu is restraining the thread's activity.
  3. (Aegean/Philistine Person 2) Astrological-powers are similar to astrological-owls. Life-manifestations are lacking motion-revelations.
  4. (Aegean/Philistine Person 3) Astrological-powers are similar to a mixture. Eagle-Vultures are making scarce the Openings.
  5. (Aegean/Philistine Person 4) Astrological-powers are similar to a mixture. Eagle-Vultures and magic are energizing the fertility-fluids
  6. (Israelite Person 5) Astrological-power's are howling for the emanation of the rainstorms.
  7. (Aegean Person 6) Astrological-powers are similar to a mixture.
Lake bottom Core sample data from the Sea of Galilee showing the droughts
Lake bottom Core sample data from the Sea of Galilee. In historical times it shows two major droughts with several minor ones. Minor droughts are indicated anytime the curves turn downward. 
The 50 year long Great Drought of 1180 to 1140 BCE (Iron Age 1 period) is what ended the Bronze Age and the 5-year long Elijah drought of 845-840 BCE. The yellow gives the tree pollen level while the green gives the non-tree pollen level. (Langut and Finkelsein 2013)

Droughts Defined the Archaeological Periods in the Levant

(May 3, 2023) Droughts separate the archaeological periods in the Levant. States weakened by local droughts were often subject to raids right after the droughts by Mesopotamian empires which were unaffected due to their irrigation. Below is the latest widely accepted chronology proposed by Amihai Mazar in 2014 shown below: 

Droughts According to Drought Chart

  1. 1180-1140 BCE - Great Drought
  2. 980 BCE
  3. 845-840 BCE - Elijah Drought
  4. 732 BCE - led to Assyrian invasion  
  5. 605 BCE - led to Babylonian invasion 

Diagnostic Letter Shapes For Dating

  1. 605 BCE - "A" has square peak. "L" has hooked appendage.
  2. 732 BCE - "A" has pointed peak.  "L" has flat appendage.


Langut, D. Finkelsein, I, Litt, T. (2013) Climate and the Late Bronze Collapse: New Evidence from the Levant. Tel Aviv 40:149-175. Online at
Mazar, Amihai (2005) The Debate over the Chronology of the Iron Age in the Southern Levant: its History, the Current Situation and a Suggested Resolution. pp. 15-30 in: T. Levy and T. Higham (editors), The Bible and Radiocarbon Dating - Archaeology, Text and Science. London. Online at:
Map of Israel showing location of Gezer

Archaeology of Tablet

The Gezer tablet was found in September 1908 during the first archaeological dig at Gezer by R.A.S. Macalister. (Albright 1943)

Gezer was located 18 miles (30 kilometers) northwest of Jerusalem on the coastal plain near the border with the hill country. Just prior to the writing of the tablet Gezer had been a prosperous Israelite trading city with the Philistines for 140 years. It was last destroyed during the troubles surrounding the previous 980 BCE drought. After that it was extensively rebuilt by the presumed victor in that struggle which was growing state of (northern) Israel with its capital at Samaria. This was the time when Gezer’s fabled 6 chambered gate and large walls were built. 

(Continue Reading)

These walls would stand for the next 300 years until destroyed by Assyria in 733 BCE (Ortiz and Wolf 2012). An identical gate was built at the same time in the northern trading city of Hazor indicating the same political entity  (northern Israel) was responsible for both (Finkelstein 2013). Jerusalem at the time was no larger than Gezer and not as important strategically beyond being the gateway to the Dead Sea area. Jerusalem at the time was at the end of the line for Israelite civilization. 

To get a sense of population scale from archaeology, Gezer at this time had a size of 108 dunams. Given an average people density of 50 per dunam this produces a population of 5,400 people. Compare this to Jerusalem at the time which had a size of 130 dunams and so had a population of 6,500 people (Shiloh 1980). In contrast, the Israelite capital city of Samaria had a population twice that of Jerusalem (Broshi and Finkelstein 1992). A rough estimate of the number of people surrounding a city but within its economic zone can be found by multiplying the city population by a factor of 7.

The Gezer rebuilt after the 980 BCE drought was well planned having three distinct areas: 

  1. Domestic quarter
  2. Administrative center with public buildings and military buildings associated with the gate complex
  3. Fortification system

Gezer did not emerge completely unscathed from the 840 BCE Elijah drought and its resulting troubles. After the Elijah drought a social and economic change is observed. Its large administrative center was razed and replaced by housing even though the rest of the city was not destroyed. During the 700’s BCE as the central rule of Judah strengthened this former administrative district would once again start to see administrative buildings with many built on the same lines as the razed ones (Ortiz and Wolf 2012).


Finklestein, I. (2019) First Israel, Core Israel, United (Northern) Israel. Near Eastern Archaeology 82.1
Ortiz, S and Wolf, S. (2012) Guarding the Border to Jerusalem: The Iron Age City of Gezer. Near Eastern Archaeology 75 : 1:4–19.
Sivan, Daniel (1998) The Gezer Calendar and Northwest Semitic Linguistics. Israel Exploration Journal Vol. 48 No. 1/2 pages 101-105

Akkadian Letter Assignments for Reference

(September 6, 2022)

Translation in Akkadian (Levant Text 2)

(read right to left. Capital letters on stone. Inner vowels inferred. Verb are italic bold)
  1. IRu  Ḫu  Nu.  A  Su Pu  Ya  Ru  ḪaWu Philistine "P"
  2. Re'u Lu  IRu.  Ḫu  LaQu  Ṣu
  3. IRu  Ḫu’u  Ša.  Di  GiNu  Tu Philistine "N"
  4. IRu ḪaQu  Ša  EṢu  Pu
  5. IRu  ḪaRe  Še.  Ru  U  Tu  Lu  Mu Philistine sideways Ḫ
  6. IRu  ḪaWu  Zu  MuRu
  7.  IRu  ḪaRe  Še.  

Attempted Hebrew Translation Which Even Many Hebrew Scholars Claim is False

Biblical scholar William Albright (Albright 1943) was the first to propose a translation soon after this tablet was discovered. Yet, many Hebrew scholars today claim that this text is not in Hebrew. These include Andre Llemaire in the year 2000 and Benjamin Sass (Sass 2005 page 84).

Albright's Translation in Hebrew 

(differences in red)
  1. YRḪW  ASP YRḪW  Z ( Z is added)
  2. R’ I YRḤW L
  3. YRḪ ṢD T (Philistine letters on stone)
  4. YRḪ QṢR ‘RM
  5. YRḪ QŞR W # GR
  7. YRḪ QŞ

Albright's translation in English

  1. His two months (olive) harvest His two months Are
  2. Grain-planting. His two months late planting
  3. His month. Hoeing up flax
  4. His month. Harvest barley
  5. His month. Harvest festivity
  6. His two months. Vine-tending
  7. His month. Summer fruit



Albright, W.F. (1943) The Gezer Calendar. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research. No. 92, pages 16-26
Sass, B. (2005) The Alphabet at the Turn of the Millennium. Tel Aviv. Emery and Claire Yass Publications in Archeology
Talmon, S. 1963 The Gezer Calendar and the Seasonal Cycle of Ancient Canaan. Journal of the Americal Oriental Society Vol. 83 No. 2 pages 177-187

(March 20, 2023) 

Translation in Akkadian (Levant Text 2)

(Read right to left. Capital letters on seal. Small letters are inferred inner vowels. Verb is italic bold)
  1. IRu  Ḫu  Nu  A.  Su  Pu  Ya  Ru  ḪaWu (Levant Text 2.1) Philistine "P"
  2. Re'u Lu  IRu.  ḪLaQu  Ṣu (Levant Text 2.2)   

In English. 

  1. Astrological Powers reveal those Hu powers. Su is not opening the eagle-vulture's howling
  2. The shepherds (magic crafters) are lacking astrological-powers for Hu when they are dominating activity

(March 20, 2023) 

Translation in Akkadian (Levant Text 2)

(Read right to left. Capital letters on seal. Small letters are inferred inner vowels. Verb is italic bold)
  1. IRu  Ḫu’u  Ša.  Di  GiNu  Tu (Levant Text 2.3) Philistine "N"
  2. IRu ḪaQu  Ša  EṢu  Pu (Levant Text 2.4)   

In English. 

  1. Astrological-Powers are similar to astrological-owls.  Life-manifestations are being made constant by magic.
  2. Astrological-Powers are mixing-up similar-things which are shedding the openings.

(March 20, 2023) 

Translation in Akkadian (Levant Text 2)

(Read right to left. Capital letters on seal. Small letters are inferred inner vowels. Verb is italic bold)
  1. IRu  ḪaRe  Še.  Ru  U  Tu  Lu  Mu (Levant Text 2.5) Sideways
  2. IRu  ḪaWu  Zu  MuRu (Levant Text 2.6)  
  3.  IRu  ḪaRe  Še.

In English. 

  1. Astrological-Powers are similar to liver-powers (emotion magic).  Eagle-vultures and magic are lacking fertility-fluids
  2. Astrological-Powers are howling at the rainstorm emissions
  3. Astrological-Powers are similar to liver-powers.