|Layers of civilization are
visible at Megiddo.
archeological site of Megiddo in Israel
shows continued rebuilding in the wake of adversity. Whether you
believe in the theory of Armageddon, you will be totally absorbed
in this excavation site.
Text and photos by Toby Saltzman
The archeological splendor at the ancient site of Megiddo portrays
the history of civilized man. It demonstrates the incredible stamina
to continuously restructure battered cities and re-establish disintegrated
societies by overcoming hardships, arising from the ruins to re-create
their lives, rebuild their homes and start anew.
Megiddo is situated on a mound in the southwest corner of the Jezreel
Valley at the narrow opening of the Eron Pass of the Wadi Arah that
leads to the sea. In ancient times, this place was considered the
most strategic spot on the route connecting Egypt in the south to
Mesopatamia in the north, because it overlooked the main transportation
artery. It was believed that he who controlled Megiddo controlled
all the lands around it. This special geographical position involved
Megiddo in many wars, which each time brought about the destruction
of the city and then the reconstruction by its conquerors and their
slaves. The city was destroyed and rebuilt 20 times.
It is impossible to visit this hill-top excavation without being
overcome by a sense of wonder at the thought that more than 6,000
years of history are layered in the 20 rocky strata of cities, each
built upon the ruins of a former city. The idea that the Egyptians
held court here, that the Persians thrived here in a highly organized
society, that the Phillistines fought the Israelites here, that
King David and King Solomon walked the very paths and entered homes
in a least one layer of this site is incredible.
This is the place where the war carriages were kept in the days
of Ahab and where King Josiah fell attempting to fight Pharoah Necho.
It is easy for even an inexperienced eye to see how the building
of homes improved from the lowest layers of loose stones piled with
packed sand, to the next layers of dressed stone, to the more finely
executed walls of rectangular-cut stones.
As the levels rise, the height of the strata of each ruined civilization
becomes taller and taller, proving that the strength and architecture
of the cities improved with the centuries.
After a few moments of looking at these magnificent slices of history,
one's mind wanders in the imagined cycle of life styles of one generation
living, growing, working and dying, only to be followed by the next
in the pursuit of cultural growth and communal existence.
Megiddo boasts some points of particular historic interest to visitors.
The ascent to the actual site brings you to the ancient gates of
the town and an intact portion of the wall of Solomon. There is
a tremendous remnant of a 5,000-year-old temple and several smaller
temples with altars. There are the rough remains of a large palace
and a deep pit with steps leading to a granary used 2,700 years
ago. Also visible are the animal typing posts and water troughs
as evidence of the stables.
There is a small museum at the site displaying some of the artifacts
that were unearthed in the discovery. It has examples of iron rings
and ploughshares as well as pottery utensils that date back to the
thirteenth century BC. It also has a model of the grounds to help
interested tourists get their physical bearings before embarking
on an exploration of the area.
The most impressive site at Megiddo is the ancient water tunnel,
at least 2,900 years old, that gave the city access to water from
the spring outside the walls during times of siege. The tunnel,
which inspired James Michener to pen The Source was hidden from
the eyes of the enemy and represents a stunning feat of architecture
and precise engineering design. From the hill-top of Megiddo, a
shaft was sunk into the ground and at the bottom a sloped tunnel
was dug seven meters to the spring so that water would flow into
the Shaft. A staircase created inside the shaft may still be climbed
and it is exciting to venture down the steps into the tunnel while
mentally reliving the effort that the people had to exert for simple
This site hits a special nerve for North American visitors concerned
about the environment and the outlook for survival for future generations.
Without pollution, nuclear warfare and abuse of nature, the survivors
and conquerors of Megiddo were able to regenerate their lives after
each catastrophe. Megiddo makes one wonder: Would our society be
able to rebuild itself?
Megiddo has a history of battles between nations. According to
the Christian tradition of the New Testament, the final battle of
all times in the struggle between good and evil, the "Battle of
the End of the Days" will be fought on the Hill of Megiddo, or Armageddon.
Whether you believe in the theory of Armageddon, you will be totally
absorbed in the excavation as you stand amid the amazing site of
Located at the junction of highways 65 and 66, it is an easy, scenic
drive to Megiddo by car from Jerusalem or Tiberius. When you arrive,
you are bound to come upon archeologists and volunteer assistants
who are working under the auspices of Tel Aviv University, Israel
to clarify the chronology of the Megiddo compound from the Early
Bronze Age to the late Iron Age.
Details: Best Israel website: www.goisrael.com