Welcome to 3D Virtual Megiddo

From ca. 7,000 B.C.E. through Biblical times, Megiddo dominated the most important international road in the Near East. Abounding with architectural monuments - temples, lavish palaces, mighty fortifications and a remarkable water system - and yielding unparalleled treasures, it is the jewel in the crown of Biblical Archaeology.

Site of epic battles that decided the fate of western Asia, it became the Egyptians’ first step to empire in the 15th century B.C.E., when Pharaoh Tutmoses III conquered the Canaan. Here was the center of Solomon’s administration in the north; here, too, the staging point for Assyria’s deportation of the people of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

Megiddo, the only site in Israel mentioned by every great power in the ancient Near East, appears in the New Testament as Armageddon, location of the millennial battle between the forces of good and evil. Small wonder, then, that it inspired James Michener’s The Source.

The 3D view shown here represents Stratum IVA which dates to the Divided Monarchy (9th or 8th century B.C.E.). The city was then ringed by a defensive wall and was entered, first through a two-chambered outer gate and then through an impressive six-chambered gate (three chambers on each side). Two large complexes, identified by scholars as stables or storehouses, appear at upper right and bottom. Safe access to water during times of siege was provided by a 210-foot-long underground tunnel at the bottom of the vertical shaft inside the city, leading to the spring below the city. The city by this time also contained a huge municipal grain silo.

Instructions for the Virtual Tour:

Use the arrows on the navigation bar to move around the city. Use the signs scattered across the city to "jump" directly to a particular site. Click on the sign of the current site to get a rotating aerial view of that site; to go back to the main view click on the "stop" button.


The Main Features at Megiddo


Main Gate

Megiddo’s main entryway during the Iron Age (the Israelite period). Someone entering the city would first pass through a two-chambered outer gate and then turn left into the main, six-chambered, gate (three chambers on each side).

Where once Megiddo’s gate gave access into the city, today it provides entry into one of the most vexing archaeological debates concerning the site: How old is the six-chambered gate? The Oriental Institute excavators, as well as Israeli archaeologist Yigael Yadin, attributed it to King Solomon (10th century B.C.E.). Yadin pointed to similar six-chambered gates at Hazor and Gezer and noted that the Bible (1 Kings 9:15) mentions together Solomon’s building activities at Hazor, Gezer and Megiddo. David Ussishkin and Israel Finkelstein, however, disagree: They believe Solomon’s Megiddo had a simple two-chambered gate; they assign the six-chambered gate to the period of the divided monarchy following Solomon’s death (9th-8th centuries B.C.E.).



Are They Stables?

Among Megiddo’s best-known remains are the structures popularly called ‘Solomon’s Stables’. The term refers to two large complexes, on Megiddo’s northeastern and southwestern sides, each consisting of a series of attached units, subdivided into three long rooms by two parallel rows of columns. The side rooms of these tripartite buildings are thought by many scholars to have been stables for horses, with the center aisles used to move animals in and out. Other scholars argue that the complexes were storehouses, while still others believe they were military barracks or marketplaces. What almost all scholars agree on, however, is that the structures were not built by Solomon in the 10th century B.C.E. They date to the 9th or 8th century B.C.E. instead, possibly to the reigns of the Omrides or later.

The view shows one of the complexes; the two rows of pillars divide the buildings into three long units. The entrance to each unit opened onto a center aisle; illumination was apparently provided by a raised clerestory roof containing windows on each side. An installation at center of the large square courtyard would have been, according to the stables theory, a water basin for the horses. Others suggest a feeding basin. Scholars who subscribe to the stable theory identify the scooped-out stone blocks within the buildings as basins or mangers. A hole cut through the side of each pillar, was presumably intended for the ropes that tethered the horses. According to the storehouse theory, donkeys laden with commodities would enter the storerooms in order to unload their goods. The stone basins were used to feed the donkeys.



The Grain Silo

Two staircases - one presumably for going up, the other down - wind their way up and down the sides of this huge silo. Dated to the 9th or 8th centuries B.C.E., this storage pit measures 21 feet deep and 34 feet across at the top. Excavators discovered traces of grain and chaff in the chinks of the stones; they estimate that the silo could hold about 12,800 bushels of grain. A dome, possibly of mudbrick, probably covered the silo when it was in use.



The Water Tunnel

Safe access to water during times of siege was provided by a 210-foot-long underground tunnel dating to the 9th or 8th century B.C.E. A large shaft leads down to the water tunnel, which connected the city to a spring southwest of the mound.