Biblical Archaeology Review,
1994, Vol. 20, Issue 1

Tel Megiddo is widely regarded as the most important archaeological site in Israel from Biblical times, and as one of the most significant sites for the study of the ancient Near East generally. It was inhabited continuously for more than five millennia, from about 6000 to around 500 B.C.E.

Megiddo’s military importance and long history as an international battleground is aptly reflected in the Apocalypse, the New Testament book of Revelation. Armageddon (a corruption of the Hebrew Har Megiddo - The Mount of Megiddo) is where, at the end of days, demons will gather the hosts of the nations for the ultimate battle against the forces of God (Revelation 16:16). At Megiddo, the day of the Lord will bring defeat upon the armies of darkness.

Strategically located, Megiddo controlled one of the most important military and trade routes of antiquity, the Via Maris, which linked Egypt in the south with Syria, Anatolia and Mesopotamia to the north and east. The mound overlooks the Via Maris as it emerges from a narrow pass in the Carmel ridge leading eastward into the Jezreel Valley. Megiddo also commands a beautiful view of the valley, with Mt. Tabor, Mt. Gilboa and Nazareth in the background to the east, and with the summit of Mt. Carmel visible to the north. The fertile Jezreel Valley, with its outlying villages, furnished the city’s economic base. Two springs at the foot of the mound, in the southwest and in the northeast, supplied water to Megiddo’s inhabitants.

The site has been excavated three times since the beginning of the century. Ours will be the fourth. It is the richest site ever dug in Israel. The history of the Megiddo excavations is in many ways the history of Biblical archaeology, its methods and techniques. [1]

THE MASSIVE MOUND OF MEGIDDO rises more than 100 feet above the Jezreel Valley. Famous as the location of the apocalyptic battle at the end of days predicted by the Book of Revelation (Revelation 16:16) - Armageddon is a corruption of the Hebrew Har (Mount of) Megiddo - this 8,000-year-old site in northern Israel has been the scene of many battles thanks to its strategic location astride international trade routes.

Please select an image from the following image list to view its full size.

The aerial photo, taken from the east, shows several features discussed in the accompanying article. The wide gash at bottom center was created in the 1920s and 1930s by University of Chicago excavators, who identified 20 major habitation levels at Megiddo; at center, slightly to the right of the upper end of the shadowed gash, is a large round altar dating to the Early Bronze Age (photo and plan); a deep, round grain silo (left of center in the upper third of the photo, with people gathered around it) dates to the ninth or eighth centuries B.C.E. (photo); a second, even larger circular depression (above the grain silo) leads down to a inth-century B.C.E. water tunnel, which connected the city to a spring southwest of the mound; lastly, the area of the city’s gates (at far right), including those assigned by many scholars to King Solomon’s time (tenth century B.C.E.).

The photo at left shows the Jezreel Valley from the area of the large gash at bottom center in the photo on the preceding pages. In the foreground is an Early Bronze Age temple rechecked in 1992 and 1993 by authors Israel Finkelstein and David Ussishkin in preparation for their full-fledged re-excavation of Megiddo, set to start this summer.

Though these past excavations have uncovered large parts of the mound, almost every level, every building and every historical interpretation has stirred fierce scholarly dispute. These controversies have not been resolved over the years, despite occasional new probes and re-examination of old excavation records. Because Megiddo is a cornerstone in the archaeology of Israel, the unresolved Issues at the site are in many ways critical for the archaeological and historical study of the entire Levant.

For these reasons, the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University is launching a major, new, long-term excavation project at Tel Megiddo, directed by the authors. The renewed excavations will systematically uncover some of the still unknown parts of the site and attempt to answer some of the unsolved puzzles remaining from previous excavations.[2]

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