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Gezer calendar
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Gezer calendar

THE GEZER CALENDAR

Before the discovery of the Izbet Sartah sherd, The Gezer Calendar was the oldest Hebrew inscription found. In 1908, the Irish archaeologist R.A.S. Macalister found the large slab of soft limestone on which is inscribed the text of the Gezer Calendar. Dating back to the late 11th, early 10th century B.C.E., it is a little poem which lists the months of the year by their agricultural tasks.

The text of the Gezer Calendar, translated by W.F. Albright, is as follows:

Translation from the Calendar    Time Frame     Hebrew Calendar
2 months are (olive)harvest        [Aug–Sept.]     Av 15-Tishri 15
2 months are planting grain)       [Oct–Nov]       Tishri 15-Kislev 14
2 months are late planting          [Dec–Jan]      Kislev 15-Shevat 15
1 month is hoeing up of flax        [Feb]             Shevat 15-Adar 14
1 month is harvest of barley        [March]          Adar 15-Nissan 14
1 month is harvest and feasting   [April]            Nissan 15-Iyar 14
2 months are vine tending           [May–June]    Iyar 15-Tammuz 14
1 month is summer fruit              [July]             Tammuz 15-Av 14

The nature and purpose of the calendar are not clear, although there are theories. Some scholars say that it is a school boy's exercise in writing, due to the rather crude quality of the script. Others say that is was designated for the collection of taxes from farmers. Another possibility is that the text was a popular folk song, or child's song, listing the months of the year according to the agricultural seasons.