|In Area F, on the lower terrace to
the northeast of the tell proper, we excavated another level in the occupation
sequence. On the crest of the rampart (constructed in the MBII; by the
LBI it was already out of use) we uncovered the remains of the unfortified
LBI village, which revealed Bichrome pottery, scarabs and miniature ivory
work. This was apparently the settlement which saw the approaching Egyptian
army of Thutmose III. The fact that it was unfortified fits the data uncovered
by the Oriental Institute on the upper tell, but shows the difficulty in
comprehending the text describing the siege of Megiddo (see “Thutmose III
and the > Aruna Pass Survey” in Revelations, no. 2). The LBI settlement
was deserted, not destroyed.
A better understanding of the Chicago
stratigraphy in Area AA is one of the principal aims of our work in Area
|Area H continued to serve as the main
sectional trench on the northern side of the mound, as it is immediately
adjacent and related to the finds of the University of Chicago in Area
Assemblage of Iron Age bowls,
juglets, jars and pots from Area H. The ceramics from Areas H and K are
expected to shed light on the controversial dating of Megiddo’s “Israelite”
Level H-3, excavated in ‘94 and ‘96,
dates to the 8th century and is to be identified with Chicago Stratum IVA.
This season we found another phase, H-4, from this same period, beneath
H-3. Hence, in this domestic area, unlike other sectors of the tell, Stratum
IVA consists of two phases. However, there is continuity between them,
as the walls of H-3 reuse the foundations of the walls of H-4. At the end
of the season we penetrated into the remains of Level H-5, which should
be identified, apparently, with Stratum VA-IVB, which is one of the currently
hotly disputed strata in Biblical Archaeology.
In Area J excavation was furthered
in the vast temple compound (see “The Megiddo Temple Complex” in Revelations,
no. 1) in an attempt to clarify the layout of the monumental Early Bronze
Ib temple (Chicago Stratum XVIII, late 4th millennium). The monumental
remains of Level J-4 — the three parallel walls and the corridors between
them — are unique in the Levant. First, they are the most monumental EBIb
remains ever excavated in the region. Second, the faunal assemblage from
the corridors (analyzed by Archaeozoologist Paula Wapnish) and next to
the later EBIII altar is the most elaborate cult discard ever found in
the Levant. Third, the size of the EBIb site, extending east of the Jenin-Haifa
road, is unparalleled. This is among the best evidence yet discovered for
the beginning of urban life in the fourth millennium. It tells us much
about the cult practices at what must have been a regional center of sacrificial
activity. This season contributed significantly to our understanding of
this stratum. We believe now that the temple was on the northern side of
the parallel walls, which apparently served as temenos walls.
More data has been collected on Level
J-5 as well, though uncertainty about its dating continues. Directors Finkelstein
and Ussishkin date it to the early EBIII (third millennium), while A. Joffe,
who will publish the pottery, still prefers an EBIb/early EBII date (late
fourth millennium). Both account for the Egyptianized vessels found in
1996 (“Egyptians at Early Bronze Megiddo” in Revelations, no. 2). If the
Directors’ dating prevails, it would be the first such clue for links between
Canaan and Egypt in the third millennium.
Area K is also crucial to the current
debate concerning the 10th century, as we reached the floors of Stratum
VIA, our Level K-4. The pottery assemblage collected from the floors is
expected to be extremely important for the dating of this level, and is
being restored in the laboratories of Tel Aviv University. Stratum VIA
is to be dated either to the 11th century (according to the prevailing
chronology) or to the 10th century (if one accepts the Low Chronology).
In any case, the remains of of Stratum VIA indicate that Megiddo constituted
a major city at the time, the last which exhibited features of “Canaanite”
material culture. In subsequent strata, the typical Iron Age II pottery
assemblages, with their hallmark red-burnished wares, take over. In terms
of relative chronology, there is no doubt that the assemblage is post-Philistine
Bichrome, in fact, later than most of the ensuing “degenerated” Philistine
types. From the absolute chronology point of view, this evidence seems
to strengthen the possibility of dating Stratum VIA later than the 11th
The K-4 remains provide spectacular
evidence for the annihilation of the city in a terrible fire, which turned
the mud bricks red; hence, its nickname, the “red brick city”. The cause
of the destruction is unclear. The debris included large wooden beams from
the roofs of the buildings, samples of which have been sent to the lab
for the identification of the wood and radiocarbon dating.
Two “new” areas were opened this summer
also. The first, Area L, is the location of Palace 6000, a beautiful ashlar
structure partially excavated by Yadin. The excavation of the area revealed
three strata. The uppermost included remains of stone-paved courtyards,
dating to Chicago Stratum III, the Assyrian city. The main feature of level
two is a set of “stables”, similar to those excavated by the Oriental Institute.
Each unit is built of three longitudinal halls, separated by a row of stone
mangers and pillars. The side halls are paved with pebbles, the central
aisles with thick plaster. There is an ongoing debate about the function
of the buildings — stables, storehouses, barracks or markets. We took samples
from the floors in order to try to identify chemical residues that would
indicate animal waste products.
Palace 6000 no doubt belongs to Stratum
VA-IVB. However, the excavations in this area should be vital to the debate
about absolute chronology. The building was constructed in the bit hilani
manner, an architectural style traditionally understood as influenced by
similar northern Syrian architecture; but there, according to Finkelstein
(Ussishkin disputes Finkelstein’s interpretation), all known Iron Age bit
hilani are of the 9th and 8th centuries. How they can be considered prototypes
for the bit hilani of northern Israel in the 10th century is problematic.
The excavation of Palace 6000 was conducted
in cooperation with the Israeli Parks Authority, which had asked the aid
of the Megiddo Expedition in excavating the palace and preparing it for
display to the public. The beautiful ashlar palace and the pillared buildings
(the “stables”) will be the main focus of a virtual reality presentation,
which will include the installation of on-site computers. The idea is to
present it to the public mainly through non-intrusive systems. This project
is a result of cooperation between the Megiddo Expedition, the National
Parks Authority, the 10th-century CE site of Ename, east of Brussels, Belgium,
and the Province of East Flanders, Belgium. The presentation project is
headed by Ann Killebrew of the Megiddo Expedition.
The excavation of the palace is part
of a study project of state formation in northern Israel, backed by the
German Israeli Foundation for Research and Development. The project is
headed by Michael Niemann (University of Rostock, Germany), who also brought
a contingent to this summer’s dig, and Israel Finkelstein and David Ussishkin.
Several universities sent contingents
to Megiddo, including Loyola-Marymount and the University of Southern California,
headed by Jessica Redford, Vanderbilt University, coordinated by Julye
Bidmead and Deborah Appler, and Macquarie University, coordinated by Michael
In the evenings, the educational program
provided a number of students, undergraduate and graduate, with credit
courses in various aspects of the archaeology of the Levant.
|Finally, we began cleaning and reinvestigating
the trench excavated by Gottlieb Schumacher at the beginning of this century
for the German Society for Palestinian Research (Schumacher, G. 1908. Tell
el-Mutesellim I). We excavated four squares (Area M) next to the large,
beautiful tomb excavated by Schumacher (found empty). The tomb, unique
in this country, is probably that of a second-millennium Megiddo monarch.
We were able to redate the tomb to the later phase of the LB and to redate
other elements in the area to the LB, rather than the MB.
Egyptian scarab in gold mount-ing
from Area M, next to Schumacher’s LB royal tomb.
Israel Finkelstein, David Ussishkin