Tell (mound) Yokneam stands in the entrance of a mountain pass through Mount Carmel, and was an important city in Biblical times and later periods.
Joshua 12, 22: "the king of Jokneam in Carmel, one".
Tell (Mound) Yokneam stands as a gate to the entrance of a pass through Mount Carmel towards the south. This steep hill was a mighty city in the biblical times, and due to its strategic location played an important role in ancient history of the region.
Today the Tell is in ruins, and the agriculture village of Yokneam (established 1935) is built east of the site. The modern city of Yokneam Illit (Upper), established in 1967, is built south of the site. An Advanced Technology park is located west of the site, across the highway.
While driving on the modern north-south highway through Mount Carmel you can easily notice this steep hill in the north-east side of Yokneam.
As in many ancient roads in Israel, modern highways follow the ancient routes due to their topographic advantages. Thus, traveling in Israel is usually travel by of the greater ancient cities, like Megiddo (which is the second pass through the Carmel/Menashe mountains).
According to the Archaeological survey, there were few pottery findings from the Chalcolithic period (4,500-3150BC). The city continued to be populated in the Early Bronze (3150-2200 BC), and especially in the middle Bronze (Caananite) period (2200-1550BC).
Late Bronze (Canaanite)
In the late Bronze period (1550BC- 1200BC) the city expanded. Yokneam was an important city in this period. It was mentioned in list of cities that were conquered in 1468BC by Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III.
The Bible told us that it was then one of Zebulon tribe cities (Joshua) and the city and the area around it was a Levite city. The city of Yokneam also was one of the 31 cities that assembled their forces to fight against Joshua and the Israelites but were defeated.
A Biblical map is shown in the map below, with the city Jokneam in the center of the most important trade routes in the northern Israel (Via Maris to south, north, and east; southeast to Megiddo/BethShean) .
(based on Bible Mapper 3.0)
Later, the city flourished from the commercially strategic location. It was populated throughout the Persian and Hellenistic periods, Roman/Byzantine, Arab and Crusaders, Mamluks and Ottomans.
There are two types of modern settlements in Yokneam: an agriculture village (Moshav Yokneam, established in 1935), and the city of Yokneam, established in 1967 as an immigration town ("Yokneam Illit"), expanded and was recognized as a city in 2006.
An aerial photo of Yokneam is shown below, indicating the major points of interest.
This is a view from the top of the Carmel (at the horns of Carmel - 'Muhraka'). The Tell of Yokneam is located to the east side of the main road (both modern and ancient roads passed at the same place). In the far background is Jezreel valley, and the road to Megiddo. The Tell has two parts: the upper city on the right (south) side, and the lower city on the left (north) side.
Click on the photo to view it in higher resolution...
The following photo shows the view of the steep Tell (Mound) from the north. This side was probably the "lower" city.
A view from the north east, from the agriculture village (Moshav) of Yokneam.
These 31 kings were defeated by the Joshua and the Israelites, including the city of Yokneam (Jokneam). It is interesting that the suffix "Jokneam in Carmel" was added, since there was another Yokneam in another region.
(1) Now these are the kings of the land, whom the children of Israel smote, and possessed their land...
This text described the borders of the Tribe of Zebulun (Zevulun), including this city in the south of the tribe's region. The brook that the text refers to "before Jokneam" is probably the Kishon river, which is 0.5KM to the north.
10 And the third lot came up for the children of Zebulun according to their families; and the border of their inheritance was unto Sarid.
11 And their border went up westward, even to Maralah, and reached to Dabbesheth; and it reached to the brook that is before Jokneam.
Yokneam was a Levite city. This tribe settled among the other tribe regions and had religious and political duties. In this text Yokneam was listed as one of these cities, including the area around it:
1 Then came near the heads of fathers' houses of the Levites unto Eleazar the priest, and unto Joshua the son of Nun, and unto the heads of fathers' houses of the tribes of the children of Israel;
2 and they spoke unto them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, saying: 'The HaShem commanded by the hand of Moses to give us cities to dwell in, with the open land thereabout for our cattle.'
3 And the children of Israel gave unto the Levites out of their inheritance, according to the commandment of HaShem, these cities with the open land about them.
Arch. Survey of Israel - Nahalal Map (28) - Avner Raban  , sites #13, 15, 16
Arch. digs (1977-1981) by Prof A. Ben Hur and Dr Y. Portugali. See Am. J. of Arch #104. (Jan 2000.)
Maps: 34, 59,63,71, 72, 108
You can also learn about the story of a Tell in our info page.