Experiencing the Past at Tel Megiddo

Most archaeological presentations address only a few of the possible stories comprising a site's history. At Megiddo, the past, present, and future converge at this crucial junction along the ancient Via Maris. These stories are and will be told through a combination of excavated material culture and the biblical accounts associated with the site and the various peoples who inhabited it.

The goal of the Megiddo site presentation, designed by Ann E. Killebrew, is to present (1) a "vertical", or chronological, cross-section through the history of the mound which will highlight the site's various cultures and periods, together with (2) a "horizontal", or multi-faceted, approach to each period which will include public or historical events of kings as well as the daily life of the inhabitants of Megiddo. The approach also aims at integrating the biblical and historical accounts with the architecture and artefacts recovered at Megiddo in the course of the excavations. Too often these aspects are presented as independent elements -- with architectural remains at the site while artefacts from the site are on exhibition in a distant museum or, equally unfortunate, languishing in storerooms.

The many stories of Megiddo will be told through "visitors' stations" located at fourteen different spots on the mound. A multi-faceted and, in some cases, a multi-media approach is employed which includes a combination of interpretative techniques such as traditional sign-posting with updated information and isometric drawings, models, limited reconstruction, and high-tech "virtual reality" computer-generated imagery.

The most exciting part of this project at Tel Megiddo are plans for a new state-of-the-art interpretative technique which combines on-site "real time" viewing overlaid by a three-dimensional animated computer-generated imagery viewed by visitors through a computer screen. Such a technique is currently in operation at the archaeological site of Ename in East Flanders, Belgium. It was developed by the East Flanders Government together with IBM (see webpage: www.Ename974.org). This visitor-controlled and interactive approach is now in the process of being adapted at Tel Megiddo and will be installed in "Palace 6000", traditionally considered to have been built by King Solomon in the 10th century BCE. This monumental structure was partially excavated in the 1998 season under the supervision of Ann E. Killebrew and Gunnar Lehmann. Excavation will continue in the summer of 2000. Following its excavation, Palace 6000 will be the focus of a multi-media site presentation dealing with King Solomon in the Bible and in the archaeological evidence. Neil A. Silberman (writer) and Bill Kennedy (architect) are also members of the interpretative team. This innovative computer-generated on-site presentation project is part of a cultural agreement between the East Flanders Government and the Nature Preservation and National Parks Authority and the excavation projects of Ename and Tel Megiddo.

A contemplation corner, overlooking the magnificent Jezreel Valley, is the most recent addition to Tel Megiddo. This valley is the spot where Christian tradition holds that the final battle of Armageddon will occur (Revelations 16:14-16). The shelter is built on the eastern edge of the mound and incorporates beautifully carved ashlar stones which once belonged to the nearby ruined monumental buildings dating to the period of the Israelite Kings (Iron II period). Numerous sites of biblical significance can be viewed from this spot. Visitors wishing to contemplate Armageddon, conduct prayer or worship services, or simply enjoy the biblical view from the mound are encouraged to rest in this shaded and secluded area where the past meets the future.