The Newsletter of the Megiddo Expedition

Virtual Reality
Temple Complex
In Memoriam
Thutmose III
Faunal Remains
Charms Capture
The 1998 Excavation
In the Footsteps... OI
The Gossip Corner
The Megiddo Temple Complex

Area J lies in the great sectional trench dug by the University of Chicago expedition in the 1930s. It is a virtual time-tunnel, giving us an opportunity to view 

Staff members offer up a sacrifice
at the EB temple

the entire settlement history of Megiddo, from the Iron Age (on the surface) to the earliest periods on bedrock. Past excavations of this part of the mound unearthed great Early Bronze and Middle Bronze fortifications and a series of temples, covering a time span of almost three millennia, from the Chalcolithic period to the early Iron Age. Our goal in this area is to clarify the stratigraphy and chronology of the temples. 

In our first season we studied afresh the first temple of the Megiddo cult compound (Stratum XIX). Before our excavations there was a dispute regarding the date of this temple. We have now reevaluated the stratigraphy and dating of the temple. We discovered that there are actually two superimposed temples rather than one, and that both date to the EB I, that is, to the second half of the fourth millennium BCE. 

In our second season of excavations we ‘moved up the stratigraphic ladder’ to Stratum XVIII. On top of the remains of Stratum XIX and under the elaborate temples of the Early Bronze III we uncovered a set of immense parallel walls. They are built of beautiful, partially-dressed stones with bricks on top. The walls are almost 50 meters long and are preserved to a height of nearly two meters. Two of them are four meters wide. We seem to be dealing here with temenos walls surrounding what must have been a great temple. This hypothesis will have to be checked in the future. The corridors between the parallel walls were full of animal bones, apparently the remains of offerings brought to the temple’s altar. This stratum also dates to the Early Bronze I. 

The EB I construction at Megiddo is the most elaborate of its kind in the Levant. The settlement covered the entire mound and the plateau to its east, a total of up to 40 or 50 hectares. It was one of the largest settlements in the country. A reevaluation of the results of the Oriental Institute dig in the light of our new excavations reveals that already at that early time the settlement was surrounded by strong fortifications. The results in Area J are therefore crucial for the study of the first urbanization of Canaan in the late fourth millennium BCE and for our understanding of the cult practices of that early period. 

A group of about 20 Egyptian vessels was found on a surface in one corridor, a collection representing some kind of squatter activity in very late EB I, after the great temenos walls went out of use. The vessels were made in the vicinity of Megiddo. It is the first time that such a large collection of Egyptian vessels has been found north of the Yarkon River (present-day Tel Aviv). They indicate that Egyptians, possibly merchants, were present at the time as far north as the Jezreel Valley, and that they did not hesitate to bring offerings to a local, ‘Canaanite’ temple. 

Next season we plan to continue the investigation of the temple compound, expand our excavations of Stratum XVIII and begin dealing with the later, Early Bronze III strata.

Israel Finkelstein