Archaeologists working in Megiddo (Armageddon, el-Lejjun, Tel el-Mutesellium, Tell el-Mutesellim, Tel Megiddo, Campus Legionis, Har Megiddo, Har-Megeddon, Harmagedon, Isar-Megiddo, Legio, Lejjun, Megiddon) have unearthed an incredible 30 layers of settlement built on top of each other that cover a period of 35 centuries.
Megiddo Museum – מגידו
The Museum is not really a museum, but houses the various model of the archaeological site. The buildings originally served the American archaeologists during their digs.
The city of Megiddo dates back roughly 8,000 years. The city ceased to exist after the Persian invasion of Palestine some 2,300 years ago and, today, nothing is left but the ruins of what once was a regional administrative and military center during the reign of King Solomon.
History of Megiddo
Megiddo’s long history is related to its strategic position overlooking the Via Maris, one of the main routes used for travel between Egypt, Syria and Mesopotamia. Megiddo assumes a prominent role. This is largely owing to its strategic location astride the Megiddo Pass (Wadi Ara). The city is referred to in the New Testament as Armageddon, a name St. John derived from the Hebrew for Mount Megiddo, Har Megiddo. According to the book of Revelation, this the place where the last great battle will be fought when the forces of good will triumph over evil.
The first people to inhabit Megiddo arrived during the Neolithic period. A watershed period occurred in the 20th century B.C.E. when it became a fortified city-state. Egypt later dominated the area then known as Canaan and massive walls were built around the city, which indicate Megiddo had become wealthy and required protection.
The first written reference to Megiddo; indeed, the first recorded battle in history, is a detailed account of the 1479 B.C.E. invasion of the Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III. The city subsequently became a center of culture and politics.
Strongly fortified throughout the ages, Megiddo boasted a stone Syrian-type gate in the days of Canaanite inhabitation. Megiddo is first mentioned in the Bible in Joshua 12:21. At the time the city was inhabited by Canaanites. The city later came under the control of King Solomon, though there is some controversy as to how much of a connection he had to the remains that have been discovered.
Walls and Gates of Megiddo
The Israelite connection to the city ended around 732 B.C.E. when the Assyrians conquered Palestine. Though the city was destroyed and rebuilt several more times, it gradually declined in significance. Most recently, Megiddo was the place where British General Edmund Allenby launched his attack against the Turks in 1917. It also served as a base for Israeli forces in the 1948 war.
Part of a large religious complex from the third millennium B.C., this sacrificial altar is striking in its size (10m diameter) and location (behind the temple).
It looks like a big hole in the ground. Luckily there is a fence so tourists won’t fall in. What is it? There are stairs up and down the walls. The walls are not plastered so it was not a cistern. Archaeologists found grains of wheat among the rocks and came to the conclusion that this is the strategic granary.
The stable is not wide enough to hold horses. The troughs are too small to feed hungry war horses. There is no source of water either give the horses to drink or to clean the stable? So what is it? Some archaeologist want this to be Solomon’s stable or at least Ahab’s stable. However, it is much more likely that these are store rooms, very similar to those found in Tel Sheva. The chariot war horses probably were pastured outside near the local brook, Nachal Kini.
One of the interesting parts of the excavation is the chariot stables, called Solomon’s Stables even though we now know they were built by King Ahab during the 9th century B.C.E. The only parts that remain are the posts where the horses were apparently tied and troughs. A grain silo dates from the reign of King Jeroboam in the 8th century B.C.E.
Today, water is considered vital to the security and survival of Israel. That this has been true since ancient times is evident in many archaeological sites throughout the country, including Megiddo. There was an earlier system based on a camouflaged exit in the wall leading to the spring. Later, an ingenious system was devised so the townspeople would not have to leave the safety of the city walls to collect water. A vertical shaft was dug within the city to the depth of the nearby spring and then a tunnel was built connecting to the water source. You can walk down 183 steps into the shaft, which is 120 feet deep, and then along the tunnel, which stretches another 215 feet. There is an accessible wheel chair conveyor available at the end of the tunnel. Ask at the gate.
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Megiddo Prison Mosaic
The archaeological site at the Megiddo Police hill is identified as the Jewish village Kfar Othnai, mentioned in written sources. The camp of the Roman Legion VI Ferrata and a city named Maximianopolis, mentioned in historical sources, were erected next to it. This is perhaps the earliest Christian religious center, but not yet a church.
The Roman Period site represents a rare cultural grouping of Village-Camp-City in a limited geographical space, which is located near the biblical Tel Megiddo that is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) archaeological excavations at the Megiddo Prison revealed a building dated to the third century CE, based on the archaeological finds both below and above its floors.
The building has a rectangular hall with a mosaic floor bearing geometric patterns, a medallion decorated with drawings of fish, and three Greek inscriptions. One inscription mentions an army officer who contributed toward the paving of the floor. The second inscription is dedicated to the memory of four women, and the third inscription mentions a woman who contributed a table (altar) to the God Jesus Christ. All the inscriptions are related to Christian community ritual activities that took place in the building.
The incorporation of the three inscriptions in the third century CE mosaic floor, that link a Roman army officer to Christianity in a building that dates prior to the recognition of Christianity as an official religion, is rare and unique and very important toward the understanding of early Christianity.