|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
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
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
The Megiddo Expedition Staff