Excavations on the eastern slope of the mound revealed the earliest remains of late Neolithic (sixth to fifth millennium B.C.E.), Chalcolithic (fourth millennium B.C.E.) and Early Bronze (end of fourth to third millennium B.C.E.) settlements. The excavators uncovered a sacred area from as early as the Early Bronze Age with successive, superimposed temples that continued to function as a sacred area all the way into the beginning of the Iron Age. In the earliest temple, a unique ceremonial copper spear was found, perhaps belonging to some long-lost warrior-priest. THE ROUND ALTAR.Seven steps lead to a huge-26 feet in diameter and 5 feet high—stone altar dating to the Early Bronze Age II-III (c. 2950-2350 B.C.E.). Adjacent to it were three small temples (plan), each rectangular and with its opening within one of its long walls. Raised platforms stood opposite the entrances and columns were placed near the center of each temple. In some respects, the round stone altar probably resembles the later Biblical "high places" described in I Samuel 9:12-14, which were condemned by religious reformers in the eighth and seventh centuries B.C.E.

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In the Early Bronze Age, this area became a magnificent ritual compound focusing on an immense circular stone structure-a bamah, or an altar-26 feet in diameter and 5 feet high, with seven steps leading up to the top. Nearby were three nearly identical temples, each consisting of a rectangular broadroom [6] with two support pillars near the center of the room and an altar on the back wall. Each temple was entered through a wide porch in front and was probably dedicated to a different deity. This impressive cultic compound can still be seen at the site. In some respects the circular stone structure probably resembles the later Biblical "high places" (for instance, I Samuel 9-10). High places like these were accepted as appropriate cult places during the period of the Judges (12th-11th centuries B.C.E.), but were eliminated during the religious reforms of Hezekiah and Josiah in the eighth and seventh centuries B.C.E.

Another significant discovery from the Early Bronze Age is a massive wall-about 25 feet wide, preserved to a height of 13 feet-unearthed on the eastern slope. This is both the earliest and the strongest of many walls that protected the city over the millennia. However, the British archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon (who excavated at Jericho and Jerusalem) had a different, quite plausible, interpretation of this Early Bronze wall: She argued that it was a retaining wall, built to support a large edifice higher up on the slope. Whether she is right is one of the questions we hope to answer in our excavation.

We can say with confidence that, in the Middle Bronze Age (starting in the beginning of the 20th century B.C.E.), the city was surrounded by a fortification wall and entered through an impressive city gate. A glacis (a steeply sloped earthen rampart) extended down from the base of the city wall. This is the beginning of the flourit of Canaanite Megiddo as a fortified urban center. The Canaanite city-state of Megiddo lasted throughout the Middle Bronze Age and the Late Bronze Age (for about 800 years), although at times it was clearly under Egyptian dominion and at other times was merely under Egyptian influence. Control of Megiddo was a prerequisite for Egyptian hegemony over Canaan.

Among the finds of the Middle Bronze Age was a broken black stone statuette of Thuthotep, a high Egyptian official of the 19th century B.C.E. Whether this reflects Egyptian dominance or simply influence is not clear.

In the Middle Bronze Age city, the Early Bronze Age sacred area continued to be used, specifically the large circular structure and at least one of the adjacent temples. An additional temple (Temple 2048) replaced them later in this period. Two massive towers (see drawing) flanked the entrance to this temple, so, like a similar temple from the same period found at Shechem, it is referred to as a "tower temple" or a "fortress temple." The latter designation stems from the fact that the walls of this temple were over 10 feet thick, which means that the walls probably extended to a considerable height. Temple 2048 consisted simply of a large rectangular building 70 feet long and over 50 feet wide, with a niche in the back wall of the temple room.

Also from this period was a large building with thick stone walls that Schumacher identified as a palace. Adjoining the palace was another stone building in which he excavated three unique stone tombs. One of them contained a skeleton lying on a bench, with a variety of gold adornments and gold-mounted scarabs. This could well have been the burial precinct of the royal dynasty of Canaanite Megiddo. The skeleton was probably a prince of Megiddo. Four more skeletons, probably of his family or entourage, and many burial presents were found on the floor.




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