Tell Megiddo

  The site is situated on the gateway on the road linking North and South of Israel, about 30 Km south-east of Haifa.  The archeologists uncovered 26 layers of ancient cities, starting before the bronze age (4000 BC) until the Greeks (4th C BC).

1 Kings  9-15: "And this is the reason of the levy which king Solomon raised; for to build the house of the LORD, and his own house, and Millo, and the wall of Jerusalem, and Hazor, and Megiddo, and Gezer."

Home > Sites > Yizreel Valley > Megiddo

 

 

 

 

 

Contents:

Location

History

Photos

* General View

* Canaanite Gate

* Israelite Gate

* North Stables

* Altar

* Silo

* South Stables

* Water Works

* Assyrian city

Biblical

Archaeological

Etymology

Identification

 

Location:

  

  The site is located 30Km south east of Haifa, and is located at a strategic entrance through the eastern Carmel hills where an ancient trade road (Via Maris) links the North (and Assyria) and South (Egypt). In this site an important City once flourished  from the bronze ages and biblical periods, and mentioned in the Old Testament as a strong City that played an important role in the history of the Biblical Israel. It was abandoned    after the Persian times since the site was relocated in nearby locations. This left the foundations of the city virtually intact from the biblical times.

 

  Today, this Tell (a layered hill with ruins of ancient cities) is an archeological park. A modern highway passes at the exact same point, and a modern Kibbutz with the same name is located nearby.

 

History of the place:

 

 

40TH C BC

Early settlement

 

20TH C BC

The city massive walls were built

       18Th C BC     A new gate is constructed in the north side.
      15TH C BC      The gate and walls were rebuilt.
 

15TH C BC

Mentioned in the Amarna letters, a 14th century BC Egyptian archive of clay tablets:  The city rebelled against the Egyptians, and was conquered after a great battle and a 7 month siege (1468)

       10Th/9 C BC     New gate and walls built by the Israelites (Solomon, Ahab or Jeroboam)
       945 BC

    Pharaoh Shishak conquers the city, as per 1 Kings 14: 25  (a fragment of tablet with his name was found here)

 

609 BC

Battle between the Eqyptians Army and the Kingdom of Judah (King Josiah, who died in this battle)

 

3rd C BC

The city was abandoned; the Tell is in ruins since then

 

1918AD

     Battles between the British and the Turks in WW1
 

1949AD

Kibbutz Megiddo was established on the south side of the Tell.

 

Photos:

 

(a) General View:

 

   Megiddo is at the south corner of the Jezreel valley. The following photo, with a view from the south mountains, shows Tell Megiddo. In its bacground is the Jezreel valley, the Mountain of Hamoreh (where the village of Naim is located on the other side), and the city of Afula. Nazareth is not seen, but is on the left side.

 

Click on the photos  to view in higher resolution...

 

The following photo shows a general view of Tell Megiddo from the west. The gates (Canaanite and Israelite) are located in the center. On the far right background is the edge of Kibbutz Megiddo.

 

         

 

A closer look at the walls of Megiddo, with a closer view of the city gate (under the right tall palm tree):

 

 

A model of the ancient city is shown in the visitors center. This model shows the Israelite period, while the earlier periods lie below and could be raised by pressing a button.  The north gate is seen in the front side. In the right-back side are the south stables and the water works.

 

Model of Megiddo in the Israelite period.

 

(b) Canaanite Gate:

 

  The entry to the city was from the North side. There are 2 gates that can seen here: the lower level from 15C BC (Late Bronze - Canaanite) and the upper level from 9C BC (Solomon). A third gate from the 18C BC (Middle Bronze) was located south to both gates.

 

  The earlier gate from 15C BC (late Bronze) is seen in the photo below. It was incorporated into earlier fortifications from the Middle Bronze (2200-1550BC). The gate consists of two rooms on each side, where the soldiers guarded the entrance. In the inner side of the inner rooms stood massive doors.

 

Megiddo North Gate - Canaanite period (15C BC). View from the entrance.

 

   A view from the other side of the Canaanite gate. At that time the city was under the rule of the Egyptian pharaohs. This city gate and the palace right behind it are the best remains from that time. The wooden black line is the level of preservation - under it were the actual ruins that were revealed during the excavations.

 

Megiddo North Gate - Canaanite period (15C BC). View from the city

 

The next photo shows a view of the Canaanite gate and the palace behind the gate. In the far left background is mount Carmel.

 

Megiddo North Gate - Canaanite period (15C BC). View from the city

 

(c) Israelite  Gate (Iron II, 10/9C BC):

 

   On the same north side, but at a higher level,  is another gate from the 10C/9C BC. This gate was built by King Solomon (10C, according to some scholars) or Ahab (9C BC) or Jeroboam II (9C BC).  In the photo below only the eastern side of this gate is seen, since the western side (on the right side) was removed during the excavations.

 

North Gate - Israelite period (built by King Solomon, or Ahab, or Jerobam II).

 

(d) North Stables and Palace:

 

  On the north side, a horses stable (seen below)  from the 8/9C BC Israelite period. It belongs to the "Chariot city" of king Solomon, as per the Bible (see references):  "And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen".
  Note that other scholars consider the stables to actually be storage rooms.  However, there are many signs that support the theory of the stables, and may be one of the most important evidence of King Solomon's structures in Megiddo.

   In this area is also the location of the north palace.

   In the background you can seen Givat Hamoreh (and Naim) in the center background, and Mount Tabor on the left background.

 

Megiddo - north side (stables and palace, Israelite period)

 

(e) Sanctified Area:

 

   In the area, which is located on the east side of Tell Megiddo, is an area where a total of 17 temples were built in the course of 2,000 years of the city, starting from the early Canaanite period (3300-2900BC). The round altar below is the lowest level - the first temple. Behind it you can notice the many layers above the area, which are from different periods in the history.

 

The round Altar in Megiddo (32-29 C BC).

 

Another view from the west side. You can see how deep the lower layer is in relation to the top of the Tell.

 

View of the round altar in Megiddo, the lowest level in the temple area

 

   Yet another view of this side. You can see in this photo all the 26 distinct layers of the city - starting from the Neolithic period (8300-4500 BC) up to the Persian period (586-332BC). In the right background is the Megiddo junction where the modern road, following the ancient road, passed southwards to Egypt (right), or northwards to Syria and beyond (left). On the left background is the Jezreel valley.

 

View towards the east. Notice the layers in the Tell.

(f) Silo:

 

   On the south side is a large pit, which used to be a grain silo from King Jeroboam II (8th C BC). There are stairs that lead to the bottom of the pit (size of 450 cubic M).

 

Silo in the south side, 8C BC.

 

Another view of the silo, looking east.

 

Silo in the south side

 

(g) South Stables:

 

   Another set of stables is located on the south side. Indeed, Megiddo was a fortified "Chariot city" (see Bible references). The Chariots were one of the most important war machines at that time, and required to allocate much real estate within the city for the horses.

 

Part of the southern side stables.

 

(h) Water works:

 

   One of the highlights of the city is its underground waterworks, located on the west side, which was built in the 10 C BC. A large pit with 183 stairs led down 35 M, and a 80M tunnel led to the spring under the bedrock. The spring was the source of water of the city and allowed it to survive long sieges. This system overcame a problem where the spring was initially located outside the walls, and the secret passage enabled the defenders to tap into fresh water without the knowledge of the enemy.  During peaceful times the spring was also accessed from outside the walls, but during siege this entrance was blocked and camouflaged.   Similar systems were constructed in Hazor, Jerusalem (the "gutter" as per 2 Samuel 5:8), Gezer and more Tells. Note this winter (2006) the entrance is closed for repair.

 

Entrance to the underground water works.

 

(i) Assyrian city

 

   In 732BC there was the  intrusion to the North of Israel by the Assyrian King Tiglath-Pileser III, who annexed the area (as per 2 Kings 15: 29: In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, and took ... Galilee...and carried them captive to Assyria").
   Megiddo became the capital of the region under Assyrian rule. The city on top of the Tell was designed in a new orthogonal planning, which was new to the city and in the region.  You can notice this order in the photo below, which is different from other sections of the Tell.

 

Assyrian city on the north-west side.

 

Biblical References:

   

Megiddo is mentioned 18 times in the Old Testament. The following texts are selected references.

 

(a) Joshua 17: 11-12

 

   The Bible tells that the city was not conquered by the Israelites (Tribe of Menasseh)  at the time of the conquest of Israel:

 

 11 And Manasseh had in Issachar and in Asher Bethshean and her towns, and Ibleam and her towns, and the inhabitants of Dor and her towns, and the inhabitants of Endor and her towns, and the inhabitants of Taanach and her towns, and the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns, even three countries.

 12 Yet the children of Manasseh could not drive out the inhabitants of those cities; but the Canaanites would dwell in that land."

(b) Kings 1: 9:15

 

   Only later, during King David's times, the city became part of the Jewish state. His son, King Solomon, constructed the great walls, including the famous gate which was later unearthed by the archaeological digs.

 

"And this is the reason of the levy which king Solomon raised; for to build the house of the LORD, and his own house, and Millo, and the wall of Jerusalem, and Hazor, and Megiddo, and Gezer."
 

(c) Kings 1: 4:26

 

"And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen".
 

(d) 2 Kings 15:29

 

The Assyrians captured the Galilee (732 BC), and made Megiddo the capital of the region.

 

" In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abelbethmaachah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria".
 

 

(e) Kings 2: 23:29

 

   King Josiah tried to block the armies from Egypt to pass through Megiddo, but was defeated there  (year 609BC) which was a terrible tragedy for the Jewish state.

 

"In his days Pharaohnechoh king of Egypt went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates: and king Josiah went against him; and he slew him at Megiddo, when he had seen him."
 

 Archaeological References:

 

  There were several archaeological expeditions in Megiddo:
  • 1903-1905 (Gottlieb Schumacher),  which uncovered 20 layers, including Jeroboam seal (seen on the right), Egyptian ivory and other artifacts.
  • 1925-1939 (Chicago Univ.)
  • 1960, 1966/7 (Yigal Yadin)
  • 1994-1998, 200+ (Tel Aviv University)- see the Megiddo Expedition web Site

 

 

During Schumacher's expedition, a rare seal was found with the inscription: "To Shema slave of Jeroboam". This may be King Jeroboam II from 750BC.

Seal of King Jeroboam II from 750 BC found in Megiddo.

 

Identification:

 

   There is no doubt on the fact that this Tell is indeed the true site of Megiddo, although the Arabic name of the hill did not preserve the name.

 

Etymology (behind the name):

 

  • Megiddo - as referred in the Old Testament. The source of the name is not clear.

 

  • Armageddon - the nearby Mount Megiddo (Har-Megiddo) probably  gave its name to Armageddon which is referred in the Old Testament

 

You can also learn about the story of a Tell in our info page.

 

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