|The Survey of the |
Another aspect of the Megiddo Expedition is the
Survey of the Megiddo Countryside. The goal of this survey is to shed light on the
economy, society and demography of Megiddo’s hinterland in ancient
times in relation to the information gathered from the mound. It will
investigate the Jezreel Valley systematically and summarize
all available data in order to draw a comprehensive picture of the
settlement history of the region.
The survey is directed by Prof. Israel Finkelstein (TAU),
Prof. Baruch Halpren(PSU), and Prof. Michael Niemann (Rostock). It is part of a project funded by the German-Israeli
Foundation for Reasearch and Development (GIF), aimed at studing the mechanism of Iron Age state formation.
The Survey work is comprised of both research and fieldwork.
Information concerning the settlement patterns is collected from
previous surveys and excavations, many of them unpublished. This
effort involves bibliographic work, gathering unpublished data from
field archaeologists, checking material stored at the Israel
Antiquities Authority and visiting regional museums and private
The actual fieldwork consists of a systematic pedestrian search for archaeological
features, mainly pottery sherds, and
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.
The goal of the first stage of the survey (1995) was to establish a complete
database for the western part of the Jezreel Valley. Prof. Axel Joffe participated in the survey season of 1995.
The designated area covers the Valley itself and the hills surrounding it, to a
distance of ca. 3 km. from the edge of the Valley. It encompasses an
area of approximately 600 sq. km. This area includes some of the most
important Bronze and Iron Age sites in the country: Megiddo, Tel
Shimron, Jezreel, Yoqne’am and Ta’anach.
This area has been covered by previous surveys.
However, in most cases past surveys have not provided certain essential details necessary for a
sophisticated study of settlement transformation, such as the size of
the sites and the quantity of sherds of each period of occupation.
This data is vital for estimating the size of a site in a given period.
Hence, most of the sites surveyed in the past were rechecked by our
Altogether about 60 sites have been revisited so far. Add to that the 25
sites which have been thoroughly excavated and the southern sites not
rechecked by our team, there is a total of about 120 sites with
In all periods, most of the settlement sites were concentrated on the
margins of the valley. This is an ideal location, since the
inhabitants could cultivate the valley without suffering from
mosquito-borne diseases in the swampy marsh. This location afforded
them with good fresh water and with rock formations suitable for
quarrying. The few sites found in the middle of the valley are usually
located next to important springs, however, most of the perennial
water sources are situated along the valley edge. The most important
Pottery Neolithic, Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age I sites are
located in the north where there are more springs.
Because of the location of the major water sources, there were always
more (and larger) sites in the northern part of the western valley
than in its southern tip. It seems that the
population in the southern part of the valley grew only in periods of
prosperity in northern Samaria (that is, the Middle Bronze, the Iron I
and the Persian periods).
In contrast to the hilly areas to the north and south of the valley
(i.e. the Lower Galilee and Northern Samaria), where changing
settlement patterns show sharp fluctuations, the Jezreel Valley was
much more stable, with a relatively steady number of sites throughout
the ages, indicating a more continuous settlement system.
There was only a slight increase in the number of sites in the Valley
from the Chalcolithic Period to the Early Bronze Age I, a significant
decrease in the Early Bronze Age II-III, and another decrease in the
Intermediate Bronze Age (though the crisis during that period was not
as dramatic as in other parts of the country). The Middle Bronze Age
is characterized by a dramatic increase in the number of sites,
followed by a slight decrease in the Late Bronze Age and the Iron Age
I. A third growth took place in the Iron Age II, with almost no change
in the Persian Period.
Data outlining the total built-up area in the valley presents a
slightly different picture of the demographic history. There were
three peaks: in the Early Bronze Age I, Middle Bronze Age and Iron
The second season of the archaeological survey of the Megiddo
countryside took place in the fall of 1999. Prof. Axel Knauf of the University of Bern,
Dr. Gunnar Lehmann of Ben-Gurion University (Israel) and Profs. Dough Knight and Jack
Sasson of Vanderbilt University (USA) participated in the 1999 season.|
The 1999 season was devoted to the examination of the archaeological sites in the eastern part of the valley. The
area which was surveyed strech from the town of Afula in the west to the outskirts of the town of Bet-shean in the east, and from Mt.
Gilboa in the south to Mt. Tabor in the north, a total of ca. 220 square kms.
The survey team examined ca. 40 sited of diffrent size ranks, from relatively large multi-period tells, to small, single period settlements. Nine of them
were occupied in the Early Bronze Age, 12 in the Middle Bronze Age, four in the Late Bronze Age, nine in the Iron I, 13 in the Iron II
and 16 in the Persian period.