Welcome to World Jewish Heritage

Rediscover your heritage like never before

Experience Jewish heritage travel to the fullest with the WJHtravel app

Tel Megiddo

From World Jewish Heritage Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Tel Megiddo

תל מגידו.JPG

Basic Information

Location Tel Megiddo, Megiddo, Israel
Country Israel
City Megiddo

General Information

Open to visitors yes
Need appointment no
Handicap accessibility no
Website http://www.parks.org.il/BuildaGate5/general2/data_card.php?Cat=~25~~584902694~Card12~&ru=&SiteName=parks&Clt=&Bur=408476391
Geographical Coordinates 32.58601,35.18478


Megiddo (Hebrew: מגידו‎; Arabic: المجیدو‎, Tell al-Mutesellim) is a Tel in modern Israel near Kibbutz Megiddo, known for its historical, geographical, and theological importance, especially under its Greek name Armageddon. In ancient times Megiddo was an important city-state. Excavations have unearthed 26 layers of ruins, indicating a long period of settlement. Megiddo is strategically located at the head of a pass through the Carmel Ridge overlooking the Jezreel Valley from the west.

History and time period

Megiddo was a site of great importance in the ancient world. It guarded the western branch of a narrow pass and trade route connecting Egypt and Assyria. Due to its strategic location, Megiddo was the site of several historical battles. The site was inhabited from approximately 7000 BC to 586 BC (the same time as the destruction of the First Israelite Temple in Jerusalem by the Babylonians, and subsequent fall of Israelite rule and exile). Since this time it has remained uninhabited, preserving ruins pre-dating 586 BC without settlements ever disturbing them. Instead, the town of Lajjun (not to be confused with the el-Lajjun archaeological site in Jordan) was built up near to the site, but without inhabiting or disturbing its remains. Megiddo is mentioned in Ancient Egyptian writings because one of Egypt's mighty kings, Thutmose III, waged war upon the city in 1478 BC. The battle is described in detail in the hieroglyphics found on the walls of his temple in Upper Egypt. Mentioned in the Bible as "Derekh HaYam" or "Way of the Sea," it became an important military artery of the Roman Empire and was known as the Via Maris.

Circular altar-like shrine Migron 4040 Famous battles include: Battle of Megiddo (15th century BC): fought between the armies of the Egyptian pharaoh Thutmose III and a large Canaanite coalition led by the rulers of Megiddo and Kadesh. Battle of Megiddo (609 BC): fought between Egypt and the Kingdom of Judah, in which King Josiah fell. Battle of Megiddo (1918): fought during World War I between Allied troops, led by General Edmund Allenby, and the defending Ottoman army. Kibbutz Megiddo is nearby, less than 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) away to the south. Today, Megiddo Junction is on the main road connecting the center of Israel with lower Galilee and the north. It lies at the northern entrance to Wadi Ara, an important mountain pass connecting the Jezreel Valley with Israel's coastal plain. In 1964, during Pope Paul VI's visit to the Holy Land, Megiddo was the site where he met with Israeli dignitaries, including Israeli President Zalman Shazar and Prime Minister Levi Eshkol.


Megiddo is also known as Greek: Μεγιδδώ/Μαγεδδών, Megiddó/Mageddón in the Septuagint; Latin: Mageddo; Assyrian: Magiddu, Magaddu; Magidda and Makida in the Amarna tablets; Egyptian: Maketi, Makitu, and Makedo. The Book of Revelation mentions apocalyptic military amassment at Armageddon, a name derived from the Hebrew "Har Megiddo" meaning "Mount of Megiddo". The word has become a byword for the end of the age.


Megiddo has been excavated three times and is currently being excavated yet again. The first excavations were carried out between 1903 and 1905 by Gottlieb Schumacher for the German Society for the Study of Palestine. Techniques used were rudimentary by later standards and Schumacher's field notes and records were destroyed in World War I before being published. After the war, Carl Watzinger published the remaining available data from the dig.

City Gate In 1925, digging was resumed by the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, financed by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., continuing until the outbreak of the Second World War. The work was led initially by Clarence S. Fisher, and later by P. L. O. Guy, Robert Lamon, and Gordon Loud. The Oriental Institute intended to completely excavate the whole tel, layer by layer, but unfortunately money ran out before they could do so. Today excavators limit themselves to a square or a trench on the basis that they must leave something for future archaeologists with better techniques and methods. During these excavations it was discovered that there were around 8 levels of habitation, and many of the uncovered remains are preserved at the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem and the Oriental Institute of Chicago. Yigael Yadin conducted excavations in 1960, 1966, 1967, and 1971 for the Hebrew University. The formal results of those digs have not yet been published, though in 2005 a grant was issued by the Shelby White — Leon Levy Program for Archaeological Publications to produce an expedition final report. Megiddo has most recently (since 1994) been the subject of biannual excavation campaigns conducted by the Megiddo Expedition of Tel Aviv University, currently co-directed by Israel Finkelstein and David Ussishkin, with Eric H. Cline of The George Washington University serving as Associate Director (USA), together with a consortium of international universities. One notable feature of the dig is close on-site co-operation between archaeologists and specialist scientists, with detailed chemical analysis being performed at the dig itself using a field infrared spectrometer. In 2010, the Jezreel Valley Regional Project, directed by Matthew J. Adams of Bucknell University in cooperation with the Megiddo Expedition, undertook excavations of the eastern extension of the Early Bronze Age town of Megiddo, at the site known as Tel Megiddo (East).

Archaeological features

The visitor to Megiddo enters via the Visitor Center which has some good displays but falls short of a full explanation of the site, its significance and its remains. The path then leads up through a Solomonic gateway to a viewing area from where one can look down on the great trench dug by the Oriental Institute. The most notable object on view is a solid circular stone structure which has been variously interpreted as an altar or a high place. In either case it dates to the Canaanite period. Further on there is a hole in the ground like an inverted cone with two stairways spiraling down. This is a grain pit from the Israelite period, to store provisions in case of siege. Beyond that are the famous stables, originally thought to date from the time of Solomon but now more securely dated a century and a half later to the time of Ahab. Finally there is the water system, which consists of a square shaft 35 meters (115 ft) deep, the bottom of which opens into a tunnel bored through rock for 100 meters (330 ft) to a pool of water. Visitors leave through the original entrance to the spring, which brings them out at the foot of the tel. [edit]Megiddo Ivories The Megiddo Ivories are thin carvings in ivory found at Tel Megiddo in modern-day Israel. The majority were excavated by Gordon Loud and are currently on display at the Oriental Institute of Chicago. Some of the objects are on display at the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem, Israel. The objects were found in the stratum VIIA, or Late Bronze Age layer of the site. Other examples are held at various other locations. Interestingly, the ivories are carved from hippopotamus incisors from the Nile. The artistic style of the items is also considered to be influenced by Egyptian conventions and an ivory pen case was found inscribed with the cartouche of Ramses III. [edit]Megiddo stables

Megiddo Stables At Megiddo two stable complexes were excavated from Stratum IVA, one in the north and one in the south. The southern complex contained five structures built around a lime paved courtyard. The buildings themselves were divided into three sections. Two long stone paved aisles were built adjacent to a main corridor paved with lime. The buildings were about twenty-one meters long by eleven meters wide. Separating the main corridor from outside aisles was a series of stone pillars. Holes were bored into many of these pillars so that horses could be tied to them. Also, the remains of stone mangers were found in the buildings. These mangers were placed between the pillars to feed the horses. It is suggested that each side could hold fifteen horses, giving each building an overall capacity of thirty horses. The buildings on the northern side of the city were similar in their construction. However, there was no central courtyard. The capacity of the northern buildings was about three hundred horses altogether. Both complexes could hold from 450-480 horses combined. The buildings were found during excavations between 1927 and 1934 at Megiddo. The head excavator originally interpreted the buildings as stables. Since then his conclusions have been challenged by scholars such as James Pritchard, Dr Adrian Curtis of Manchester University Ze'ev Herzog, and Yohanan Aharoni. They suggest that the buildings should be interpreted as either storehouses, marketplaces or barracks. Nevertheless, Yigael Yadin and J. S. Holladay strongly argue against this conclusion. Other Tripartite Buildings have been found at other sites such as Hazor and Beer-Sheba. The evidence at these other sites is not absolutely conclusive. It is also possible, as Amihai Mazar suggests, that similarly shaped buildings in different cities may have been put to different uses. [edit]Megiddo church Main article: Megiddo church In 2005, Israeli archaeologist Yotam Tepper of Tel-Aviv University discovered the remains of a church, believed to be from the third century, a few hundred meters south of the Tel on the grounds of the Megiddo Prison. Among the finds is an approx. 54-square-meter (580 sq ft) large mosaic with a Greek inscription stating that the church is consecrated to "the God Jesus Christ." It is speculated that this may be the oldest remains of a church in the Holy Land.

Photo Gallery

Related links





Jewish Religious Movements/Denominations





Time period

Biblical times