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 1998 Excavation Season

The 1998 Megiddo Expedition Staff consisted of: Israel Finkelstein, David Ussishkin and Baruch Halpern (Directors); Norma Franklin (Expedition Coordinator and Area F Supervisor); Lynne Koppeser (Team Member Coordinator); Paula Wapnish (Archaeozoologist); Benjamin Sass (Small Finds); Eyal Buzaglo and Lucas Petit (Area H Supervisors); Jennifer Peersman (Area J Supervisor); Yuval Gadot (Area K Supervisor); Yulia Gottlieb and Assaf Yasur-Landau (Area K Assistants); Ann Killebrew and Gunnar Lehmann (Area L Supervisors); Eric Cline (Area L Assistant); Robert Deutsch (Area M Supervisor); Judith Dekel and Bill Kennedy (Architects); Noga Blockman and Adi Kafri (Registration); Lenna Benenson (Computer Support); Pavel Shrago (Photography); Gilead Cinammon (Administration).

The Megiddo Expedition conducted its third full season of excavation this summer from June 14 to July 31. Excavation was continued in the four areas dug in ‘94 and ‘96, and begun in two new areas. 

 The thick plaster floor of the Stratum IVA “stable” excavated in Area L. Note the stone troughs and pillars to the left.

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.
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 AA.

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” strata.

 A better understanding of the Chicago stratigraphy in Area AA is one of the principal aims of our work in Area H.

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 century BCE.

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 Birrell.
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.

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.

Israel Finkelstein, David Ussishkin and 
Baruch Halpern