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
Thutmose III and the 'Aruna Pass Survey

'Now two (other) roads are here. One of the roads ( behold, it is [to the east of] us, so that it comes out at Taanach. The other ( behold, it is to the north side of Djefti, and we will come out to the north of Megiddo. Let our victorious lord proceed on the one of [them] which is [satisfactory to] his heart, (but) do not make us go on that difficult road!' (J. B. Pritchard. Ancient Near Eastern Texts. 1969: p. 234). 

Map of the 'Aruna Pass area near Megiddo.
Map drawn by Judith Dekel 

This inscription from the Temple of Amun at Karnak in Upper Egypt relates the advice of the Egyptian King Thutmose III's generals during the campaign of his 23rd year (1479 B.C.E.), as his armies marched to meet a coalition of Canaanite forces at Megiddo, led by the Prince of Kadesh on the Orontes. His officers express their fears about the narrow main highway as it crosses the hills separating the Sharon Plain from the Jezreel Valley, worrying that they might have to proceed 'horse after horse', or single file, leaving 'the vanguard( fighting while the [rear guard] is awaiting) in Aruna, unable to fight.' 

From these words of military council to Thutmose III we learn of three of the four passes from which a traveler may choose in order to cross the central mountain range on his way from Egypt, along the coastal plain, through the Jez reel Valley and on to Syria. Of the four, the southernmost, the Ta'anach Pass, traverses from Baqa al-Gharbiya to the mound of Ta'anach; the northernmost, the Yokne'am Pass, leads into the Jezreel Valley at Yokne'am, biblical Jokneam. A fourth option, not mentioned by Thutmose III, is to continue along the coast up to modern-day Haifa. 

The central pass, called 'Aruna in Thutmose III's inscriptions, is the most important of the four. Many kings and generals have used this pass on their way from Egypt to Syria, from Pharaohs Thutmose III and Sheshonk I to General Allenby, who led an Australian light horse division and the Tenth Indian Infantry en route to meet the World War I Ottoman forces. 

'Aruna is the name which appears in the Egyptian sources, such as the annals of Thutmose III and Sheshonk I, and is preserved in the name of the modern village of 'Ara, which helped in identifying the route still the main road from the coast to Megiddo and the north today. 

The area of these passes is the focus of my M.A. thesis. The work includes field survey, which aims to study the changing settlement patterns along 'Aruna Pass, and analysis of previous surveys of the other three. The intent is to shed light on differences in settlement pattern among the four routes. Combined with the historical records of their use, the research may reveal which of the roads were more popular during each period. 

The current survey of the 'Aruna Pass area consists of one link in the Megiddo Expedition's larger, wide area survey in the western Jezreel Valley. It aims at a better understanding of the economy, society and demography of the surrounding Megiddo countryside in each period in relation to the information gathered from the mound. 

Within the framework of the study, several colleagues and fellow students and myself conducted field survey which focused on the Wadi 'Ara area, including a corridor of three kilometers on either side of 'Aruna Pass. The intent is to map all the sites within the designated area from the Bronze, Iron and Persian Periods. The information concerning the settlement patterns of the northern and southern passes will be collected from previous surveys and excavations conducted by other institutions. 

The survey work consists of a systematic pedestrian search for archaeological features, such as pottery sherds, agricultural installations or building remains. The team members spread out at a distance of 20 to 30 metres from one another, then comb the site for any datable finds, usually pottery. The site is measured and, if need be, photographed, and a description of the site, including all features visible from the surface, is written. 

Our hope is to discover unknown sites and to better study those for which an identification has already been suggested. There have already been some intriguing results. A total of 24 sites from the relevant periods have been investigated along 'Aruna Pass. Of them, some were unknown from previous surveys and were dated according to pottery sherds found by our team. 

Judging from the number of sites (not accounting for size or estimated population), Wadi 'Ara was the least settled of the four passes. Is it possible that the situation on the hectic highway which traverses the wadi, used time and time again for military expeditions, was such that settlers were forced to concentrate at large defensible towns or to build their homes away from the road? 

Students from the Department of Archaeological of TAU participated in the survey, some of whom also participated in the educational program at Tel Megiddo in 1996, making it their second involvement in the Megiddo Expedition.

Yuval Gadot 
The Megiddo Expedition Staff