(Ar., Tell el-Mutesellim; “the tell of the governor”),

site located on the western side of the Jezreel Valley (Plain of Esdraelon), not far from the point where the brook of Naḥal Iron (Wadi Ara) crosses Mt. Carmel and enters the Jezreel Valley. In antiquity the main highway (Via Maris) from Egypt to Syria passed the narrow Naḥal Iron, militarily the best point for controlling the road, giving Megiddo special strategic importance. Megiddo is mentioned in the Book of Revelation (16:16) as Armageddon (probably Har Megiddo, “the Mount of Megiddo”), where the final battle between the people of God and the gentile armies will take place at the end of days.


The first excavations at Megiddo were carried out between 1903 and 1905 by Gottlieb Schumacher (1908), an architect from Haifa, on behalf of the Deutscher Palästina-Verein. An analysis of the finds was later published by Carl Watzinger (1929). In 1925 the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago began large-scale excavations, aimed at completely excavating the mound by horizontally digging one city level after the other. The program was too ambitious, and they subsequently excavated only parts of the site. The project ended with the onset of World War II in 1939. No attempt was made to correlate the work with the German finds or with Schumacher's crucial architectural data. Clarence S. Fisher (1929) directed the excavations from 1925 to 1927. He concentrated the work on the eastern side of the summit, further uncovering Schumacher's Tempelburg, a monumental Iron Age structure. From 1927 to 1934, P. L. O. Guy (1931) cleared more of the area to the east of the site, uncovering remains of early periods (Engberg and Shipton, 1934) and many tombs (Guy, 1938). He excavated the first-millennium BCE levels across the summit, including the city gate, palaces, and stable compounds (Lamon and Shipton, 1939) and cleared the water system (Lamon, 1935). From 1935 to 1939, Gordon Loud directed the work, concentrating on digging the lower strata in limited areas (AA–DD; Loud, 1948). A deep trench that reached bedrock was excavated in area BB at the site's eastern edge.

Between 1960 and 1972, Yigael Yadin (1970) of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem carried out soundings on the northeast and west to clarify the Iron Age stratigraphy and particularly the fortifications. In 1965 Immanuel Dunayevsky and Aharon Kempinski (1973), also of the Hebrew University, studied the stratigraphy of the cultic area in BB, and in 1974 Avraham Eitan (1974) studied, on behalf of the Hebrew University, the Iron Age remains on the eastern slope. A long-term project of systematic excavations initiated by Israel Finkelstein and David Ussishki of Tel Aviv University and Baruch Halpern of Pennsylvania State University followed exploratory soundings in 1992 and 1993. They carried out a full-scale excavation season in 1994 on the lower terrace, on the summit near the Assyrian palaces, and in the cultic area in BB.

Early Settlement.

Remains of settlement of the earlier periods were uncovered on the site in a limited area on the eastern slope, and it is unclear whether the settlement extended over the entire site or not.

Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods.

The earliest settlement, on bedrock, was uncovered in area BB. Habitation remains in one cave date to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPN) period (stratum-XX). Remains of stone and brick walls, floors, pits, and fireplaces cut in the surface of the rock belong to the earliest proper settlement here (stratum XX). Toothed flint sickle blades and pottery fragments of the Yarmukian culture date the settlement to the PPNB. Some remains dating to the Ghassulian culture of the Chalcolithic period were uncovered immediately above bedrock in the upper part of the slope in area BB: rock-cut pits, installations, and possibly a curving wall. The pottery contains a relatively large number of cornets and small bowls, a possible indication of cultic activity.

Early Bronze Age I.

Remains of the Early Bronze Age I discerned in a surface survey northeast of the mound and on the lower terrace were uncovered in stages VII–IV in the area east of the mound (Engberg and Shipton, 1934) and in area BB (stratum XIX). The remains indicate that a huge unfortified EBI settlement existed there that extended over a large area east and northeast of the mound. The pottery is characterized by gray-burnished Esdraelon ware and grain-washed pottery. Two “curving” buildings—rectangular with a rounded end—and a number of cylinder seal impressions stamped on pottery vessels were uncovered in stage IV. [See Seals.]

A temple compound was excavated on the eastern slope of the mound in area BB. It was studied by Dunayevsky and Kempinski (1973) and again examined in the excavations since 1992. The temple was the first of successive sanctuaries built in this general area (the “sacred area”) before the Iron Age. The shrine faced east, and a courtyard extended in front of it on the slope. The recent excavations indicated that there were two superimposed temples there, the upper one possibly dating to EB II. A stone pavement along the slope belonged to the earlier structure; some of the stone slabs are incised with figures of men, animals, and decorative patterns.

Early Bronze Age II–III.

The EB II–III, are covered by strata XVIII–XV in area BB. Attempts to elucidate their stratigraphy and chronology were made by a number of scholars, in particular Kathleen M. Kenyon (1958), Dunayevsky and Kempinski (1973), and Douglas Esse (1991, pp. 67–90). A massive stone city-wall (about 4–5 m wide) was built in stratum XVIII; it marks the beginning of a smaller, but fortified, settlement. The wall's construction date is not clear; it is preserved to about 4 m in height. It turns inward at the edge of area BB, indicating that it did not surround the site. In stratum XVII it was widened to about 8 m. Kenyon (1958) suggested that it was merely a retaining wall supporting an edifice built higher on the slope.

Altar 4017, apparently the focal point of the sacred area, was built on the summit in stratum XVII and was later rebuilt. A circular, stone-built structure (8 m in diameter and 1.5 m high), it has seven steps leading to its top. An enclosure wall surrounded it, and large amounts of bones and pottery were found within it. Three temples, uniform in plan and measurements, were built near the altar in stratum XV. Each consisted of a rectangular cella entered through a porticoed porch and a side room. Two pillar bases were found in the center of each cella, and a raised altar stood against the rear wall. The temples were probably dedicated to three different deities; with the round alter they formed an impressive cultic compound. Their stratigraphy and chronology are unclear, but it seems they were constructed later than the altar, although they were in use contemporaneously. Loud assigned the temples to the Intermediate EB–MB period. It is now generally assumed that temple 4040 is earlier than the other two and that they all date to EB III. Excavations in 1994 revealed an EB III domestic layer beneath temple 4040, which needs to be factored into the dating.

Intermediate EB–MB period.

During the EB–MB period, settlement continued but declined. Temple 4040 was reused: the cella was largely filled with rubble, leaving a small cultic cell in the center. A pavement with cultic vessels was found above the earlier round altar. A number of rock-cut tombs were uncovered to the southeast (Guy, 1938), many of them characterized by their plan: a vertical shaft leads into a central chamber surrounded by three smaller chambers. [See Tombs.] The pottery in the tombs represent wheel-made, gray vessels decorated with wavy white bands, defined by Ruth Amiran (1960) as Family C and by William G. Dever (1980) as Family NC in their classifications of the period's pottery.

Canaanite City.

The beginning of the Middle Bronze Age (twentieth century BCE) marks the development of Megiddo (in stratum XIII) as an urban settlement—the center of a Canaanite city-state that existed, without interruption, until its destruction (in stratum VIIA) at the end of the Late Bronze Age (twelfth century BCE). The entire period was affected by Egyptian interests and influence, whose domination of Megiddo was a strategic prerequisite for hegemony in Canaan.

The custom then of constructing tombs within the city limits, the difficulty in clarifying the tombs' association with city levels, the site's continuous occupation, and the near absence of destruction by fire makes interpreting the stratigraphy and finds difficult. Many scholars have attempted to elucidate the stratigraphy, in particular Claire Epstein (1965), Kenyon (1969), Dunayevsky and Kempinski (1973; Kempinski, 1989), Patty Gerstenblith (1983, pp. 23–28, 114), and Rivka Gonen (1987). It seems that the settlement was extended during this period by the addition of a large area to the northwest. The lower city, demarcated by steep slopes, is clearly discernible today. In 1994 excavations were begun in the lower city (area F); whose uppermost level dates to the Late Bronze Age, indicating that the lower city was abandoned at the end of this period.

Middle Bronze Age.

The MB I parallels the Middle Kingdom period in Egypt, when the twelfth dynasty renewed Egyptian interest in Syria and Canaan. The nature of the relationship between Egypt and Megiddo then is not clear. The Execration texts do not mention Megiddo (interpreted as an indication of Egyptian domination). Part of a stone statuette of Thuthotep, a contemporary high Egyptian official, was found—with two other broken statuettes—embedded in the raised platform of the stratum VIIB temple 2048. It is assumed that the statuettes stood in an earlier temple built at the spot and were broken when the temple was plundered; they may also have been buried later as an act of reverence. The historical implications of this find are similarly unclear. Some scholars assign strata XIII–XII to MB I (e.g., Kempinski, 1989), while others (e.g., Gerstenblith, 1983; Graham Davies, 1986) assign stratum XII to MB II. During MB II–III (strata XI–X), the Second Intermediate period in Egypt, Egyptian associations with Megiddo weakened, and scarabs are the main expression of Egyptian influence.

Massive fortifications characterize the MB city. At least three phases were uncovered at the north edge of the mound in area AA. In stratum XIII a city gate was uncovered with a stepped approach, narrow doorways, and an indirect passage (indicating that it was planned for pedestrians). The gatehouse and associated city wall were built of bricks on stone foundations and were supported on the outside by a glacis of limestone chips. In stratum XII the city gate must have been moved and a new wall supported by a glacis added. In stratum XI a new massive glacis was laid against the earlier fortifications, extending the mound on the north. The glacis leaned against a wall with buttresses constructed along its inner face. On the east, this wall segment ended in a tower that apparently either formed part of the city gate or flanked a monumental road leading to the upper city.

A continuation of the area AA strata XIII–XII walls was found in areas BB and CC, also of bricks on stone foundations. The unplastered brick walls were preserved to a considerable height, indicating that they were supported by a glacis and a constructional fill and were hidden from view. Schumacher uncovered remains of one or more glacis along the slope that supported massive brick walls, probably associated with the same fortification systems, in seven narrow trenches in different parts of the mound (Schumacher, 1908, pp. 23–36). Significantly, the lower city was apparently also fortified; the 1994 excavation revealed the existence of a massive city wall built of large stone blocks that probably dates to this period.

The MB royal acropolis at Megiddo was probably located at the center of the site. It included the Nordburg, a large building Schumacher uncovered in his main trench (1908, p. 37–66), and a building with thick stone walls uncovered in strata XI–X in area BB. Adjoining the southern side of the Nordburg Schumacher uncovered another building, the Mittelburg, which contained three unique stone-built tombs, apparently belonging to royalty or nobility. The largest was empty and hence was not considered by Schumacher to be a tomb. All the chambers are vaulted by fine stone rudimentary corbeling—an early example of this building technique.

The EB sacred area in BB continued to function. Loud (1948) uncovered buildings of strata XIII–IX around the sacred area but did not identify any contemporary building in the sacred area itself. He assigned an area with standing stone stelae (above altar 4017) to stratum XII and a series of superimposed rubble pavements to stratum IX. The new temple (no. 2048) was assigned to the Late Bronze Age. It is now generally agreed that this temple was founded in the Middle Bronze Age, in stratum X or even later. Temple 2048 has three superimposed phases. The earliest structure was preserved at foundation level only. It is a massive rectangle (21.50 × 16.50 m) containing a single hall with a niche opposite the entrance; two towers flanked the entrance. The temple is tower temple or fortress temple type and can best be compared to the contemporary temple at Shechem. [See Shechem.]

MB domestic buildings were uncovered in the various strata in areas AA and BB, indicating that Megiddo was densely populated then. The custom of intramural burial, inside and outside the houses, in graves and in stone-built tombs, was very common. [See Burial Sites; Burial Techniques.] Typical of the end of the period and of the beginning of the Late Bronze Age is bichrome ware—decorated pottery either imported from Cyprus or locally made.

Late Bronze Age.

The expulsion of the Hyksos from Egypt and the campaign of Ahmose to Canaan in about 1550 BCE mark the beginning of the Late Bronze Age and the renewal of Egyptian influence in the country. It seems that Megiddo was not destroyed but was conquered in about 1479 BCE, during Thutmosis III's first Asiatic campaign. Events at Megiddo were recorded in detail in Thutmosis's monumental inscription carved on the walls of the Temple at Karnak and can be reconstructed (Davies, 1986, pp. 51–56). While the Egyptian army progressed northward along the coastal highway, the army of the Canaanite kings, led by the king of Qadesh on the Orontes River, concentrated near Megiddo. They prepared to challenge Thutmosis where the pass leading through the narrow Naḥal Iron opens to the Jezreel Valley (see above). Thutmosis III learned of his opponents' plan, but decided to follow the direct route and took the Canaanite armies by surprise. The Egyptians won the ensuing battle, and the Canaanites fled to Megiddo, which Thutmosis conquered after a seven-month siege. The battle established Egyptian domination over Megiddo. It probably continued until the end of Canaanite Megiddo, which is marked by the destruction of stratum VIIA (twelfth century BCE).

Megiddo is not mentioned in the descriptions of the campaigns of Amenhotep II (1427–1401 BCE), apparently because the city was already dominated by Egypt. One of the Ta῾anach letters mentions the Egyptian commander at Megiddo. [See Ta῾anach.] Papyrus Hermitage 1116A, dating to the reign of Amenhotep II, records presentations by Egyptian officials of grain and beer to envoys of various Canaanite cities, including Megiddo. Eight letters found in the el-Amarna archive and dating to the reigns of Amenhotep III (1391–1353 BCE) and Amenhotep IV (1353–1335 BCE) were sent from Megiddo. [See Amarna Tablets.] Six letters were sent by Biridiya, the ruler of Megiddo, who expressed his loyalty to the Egyptian pharaoh and discussed his struggle with Labayu, the ruler of Shechem, and the cultivation of estates in Shunem by forced labor. Egyptian domination probably continued into the thirteenth century BCE, but there is no documentation other than Papyrus Anastasi I, in which Megiddo appears as a place name in Canaan. Of particular interest is a fragmentary cuneiform tablet that includes the Epic of Gilgamesh; although found on the surface beyond the site (Goetze and Levy, 1959), it may derive from a scribal school at Megiddo.

A new royal palace was built in stratum IX on the north, probably replacing the earlier royal acropolis at the center of the settlement. Four successive palaces were excavated (area AA) in strata IX–VIIA. Particularly impressive is the stratum VIII palace. The stratum VIIA palace was decorated with wall paintings, an indication of Egyptian influence. [See Wall Paintings.] According to Loud (1948), the strata VIIB and VIIA palaces met with violent destruction; however, it seems possible that only the latest palace was destroyed by fire. A second palatial complex was built farther east, in area DD, but the relationship between the two is unclear.

The stratum VIIA palace included an annex—a three-chambered cellar. In its rear chamber, sealed by destruction debris, an assemblage of ivory objects and other precious items was found (Loud, 1939). The assemblage included 382 carved ivories of assorted types in the locally carved Canaanite style and imported Egyptian, Aegean, Assyrian, and Hittite examples. It is the richest assemblage of Bronze Age ivories found in the Near East.

A wide, paved roadway supported by a retaining wall led to a city gate near the palace. Built in stratum IX (or even stratum X) and used until stratum VIIA, it was a three-entry monumental gatehouse built with ashlars but without foundations. The gatehouse is not connected to a city wall and was probably erected where the stratum XI roadway or gatehouse was, incorporated in the line of the MB glacis. In 1993 the gatehouse, which the Chicago expedition had partially blocked after its excavation, was recleared, further excavated, and then restored by Israel National Parks Authority. The Chicago excavators believed that the gate had two floors, representing two phases, but the recent excavation has not verified this conclusion. Three large ovens where found on the floor, indicating that in its latest period of use it did not function as a gate.

The absence of a Late Bronze Age city wall has puzzled scholars, particularly because Thutmosis III laid a siege to the city (Gonen, 1987, pp. 97–98). It seems that the glacis of the previous period continued to function also in the Late Bronze Age. Also, houses built along the upper periphery of the mound may have formed a defense line around the city.

Temple 2048, uncovered in Area BB, which was probably founded in the Middle Bronze Age, continued to be in use. It was destroyed by fire at the end of the period. A number of valuable objects, including bronze figurines and two clay liver models, probably originate in the temple.

An ivory object bearing a cartouche of Rameses III was found in the assemblage of ivories in the stratum VIIA palace. It proves that stratum VIIA was not destroyed prior to the reign of that pharaoh (1182–1151 BCE; low chronology of Wente and Van Siclen). A statue of Rameses VI (1141–1133 BCE; low chronology), found buried in a pit in Area CC was probably placed in a temple; it indicates the continuation of Egyptian domination of Megiddo during Rameses VI's reign. The destruction of stratum VIIA probably occurred shortly afterwards, in about 1130 BCE. As it seems this destruction coincides with the end of Egyptian rule in Canaan, and the two events may well have been connected.

Strata VIB–A.

Following the destruction of the Canaanite metropolis, a poor settlement was built in stratum VIB that was subsequently replaced by a larger, richer settlement in VIA. It was unfortified, but the excavators believed the later stratum VA/IVB (see below) city gate to have originated there. The buildings, mostly domestic in nature, were built of bricks on stone foundations. The sole public structure is building 2072, near the site's northern edge. Metal objects, mostly of bronze, reflecting a long tradition (probably Canaanite) of bronzework, are typical of this settlement; of particular interest are a number of bronze stands and iron blades uncovered by Schumacher (1908, pp. 84–87). The settlement was destroyed by fire.

Historical correlations.

The Philistine bichrome pottery uncovered in stratum VI suggests a Philistine presence or influence. Albrecht Alt (1953), Mazar (1976), and Yadin (1970) believed stratum VIA represented the eleventh-century Canaanite-Philistine city David conquered, and Trude Dothan considers the fragments of Philistine pottery reported from that stratum to be an early indication of the Sea Peoples' presence; however, they are more likely merely stray sherds. [See Philistines, article on Early Philistines.]

The king of Megiddo is mentioned in Joshua 12:21 in the list of kings defeated by Joshua. Joshua 17:11–12 and Judges 1:27 record that the Canaanites continued to live in Megiddo until their later subjugation by the tribe of Manasseh (cf. 1 Chr. 7:29). Albright (1936) believed that the expression “in Ta῾anach, by the waters of Megiddo” (Jgs. 5:19) in the Song of Deborah refers to a time when Megiddo was not settled, assigning the poem and the events described in it to the period immediately following the destruction of the stratum VIIA city. Aharoni (1982) suggested that the Israelites destroyed the stratum and that stratum VIB was a small Israelite settlement. His view was supported by the presence of Collared-rim storage jars, usually associated with the Israelite conquest of Canaan, in stratum VIA.

Israelite City.

Remains of domestic buildings of stratum VB were uncovered in various parts of the site. The stratum VB settlement was unfortified, except for one building, possibly a fort. It is usually considered to be Israelite, dating to the reign of David.

Solomonic city.

Megiddo was included with Ta῾anach and Beth-Shean in the fifth administrative district of Solomon (1 Kgs. 4:12). Apparently the district governor, Baana son of Ahilud, resided at Megiddo. [See Beth-Shean.] Megiddo is mentioned with Jerusalem, Hazor, and Gezer in 1 Kings 9:15 as a central city built by Solomon and financed by levies. [See Jerusalem; Hazor; Gezer.] Monumental Solomonic remains were uncovered in all the excavations. Their interpretation is not easy and is, in many ways, controversial. Of special importance is Yadin's work (1970), which resulted in redating city wall 325 and “Solomon's stables” to the ninth century BCE.

Stratigraphically, the Solomonic city level includes the structures located above the stratum VB building remains and immediately beneath city wall 325 of stratum IVA and associated structures. Solomonic remains were assigned by the University of Chicago excavators to different strata: V (later VA), IVB, and IV. Albright (1943, pp. 29–30, no 10) observed that the remains of strata VA and IVB belong to a single city level (his VA/IVB), the superimposed stratum was labeled IVA. This terminology is largely used today, but some scholars label these levels VA and IV, respectively. Aharoni (1972; 1982) dated stratum VA/IVB to David's reign and IVA to Solomon's (cf. Kenyon, 1964, and Wightman, 1985).


MEGIDDO. Figure 1. Aerial view of the southern Solomonic palace at the time of its excavation. (Courtesy The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago)

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Stratum VA/IVB includes three palaces (nos. 1723, 6000, 338) built along the upper periphery of the site on the south (see figure 1), north, and east, respectively. Situated in large courtyards, their facades face the center of the site. A large building (no. 1482), interpreted as an administrative in function, was built near the compound of the southern palace (no. 1723). Large quarters of domestic buildings were uncovered along the east and north, including a sanctuary (no. 2081) along the upper periphery on the north.


MEGIDDO. Figure 2. Suggested reconstruction of the stratum VA-IVB city gate. Dated to the ninth century BCE. (Courtesy The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago)

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The buildings on the upper periphery formed a line of defense Yadin (1970) interpreted as a casemate city wall. The city gate, on the north, was a small, two-entry gatehouse, approached by a wide, lime-paved ramp (Loud, 1948, pp. 39–45) (see figure 2); the so-called Solomonic four-entry gatehouse is later in date and belongs to stratum IVA. In addition, a small postern (gallery 629) was built on the west, above the spring. Originally dated to the twelfth century BCE (Lamon, 1935), it was correctly assigned by Yadin (1970) to stratum VA/IVB.

Ashlar masonry was used lavishly in constructing the monumental buildings, both in their foundations and superstructure. Proto-Ionic stone capitals, mounted on pilasters and freestanding pillars, decorated their entrances. Unfortunately, the buildings were mostly destroyed when the ashlars were taken for reuse in stratum IVA. Construction with ashlars originated in Egypt and first appears in Canaan in the LB city gate and temple at Megiddo. It was introduced on a large scale during Solomon's reign. At Solomonic Megiddo, it fits the description of ashlar masonry in Solomon's palace in Jerusalem (1 Kgs. 7:9–12) and reflects the Phoenician influence on Solomon's building activities.

Palace 6000, uncovered by Yadin (1970, pp. 73–77), was rectangular (28 × 21 m). Most of its stones were removed following its destruction by fire. It was apparently a ceremonial palace built as a bit-ḫilani (a type of a ceremonial palace typical to North Syria in this period). It contained a porticoed entrance and a large central hall. Palace 1723 (Lamon and Shipton, 1939, pp. 11–24) was built in a spacious courtyard and entered through a monumental gatehouse (no. 1567) that was largely uncovered by Schumacher (1908, pp. 91–104). The nearly square palace (about 22 × 23 m) was mostly preserved at foundation level; hence, its aboveground plan is unknown. It seems probable that it contained both a ceremonial section built as a bit-ḫilani and a residential section (Ussishkin, 1966). If so, Solomonic Megiddo contained at least two bit-ḫilani palaces as, for instance, on the acropoli of Tell Ta῾yinat and Zincirli (ancient Sam'al) in North Syria, which date to this general period. Other scholars restore only palace 6000 as a bit-ḫilani (Yadin, 1970; Kempinski, 1989).


MEGIDDO. Figure 3. Cult objects. The objects were found in a cache in small sanctuary no. 2081 of stratum VA–IVB; dated to the reign of Solomon. (Courtesy The Oriental Institute, Univ. of Chicago)

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Building 338, at the highest point in the city, was constructed on an aboveground foundation podium. It was first excavated by Schumacher (1908, pp. 110–124), who identified it as a sanctuary and associated it with the stratum II fortress (his Tempelburg). Fisher (1929, pp. 68–74) excavated it further and identified it as the Temple of Astarte; Guy (1931, pp. 30–37; Lamon and Shipton, 1939, pp. 47–59) interpreted it as the residence of the military commander of the eastern part of the city and assigned it to stratum IV (i.e., IVA). Guy's views are generally accepted today. However, while part of the building probably served a secular function, it seems that Schumacher rightly identified a shrine, characterized by two large stelae, in unit 340, in the southern part of the building (Ussishkin, 1989). Model shrines and stone altars uncovered inside and to the south of the building by Schumacher and Fisher (May, 1935) probably belong to this shrine. A wing of the building uncovered by Schumacher and later destroyed was ignored by the University of Chicago excavators; it apparently antedates city wall 325; hence, building 338 dates to stratum VA/IVB. Sanctuary 2081 contained a cache of cultic equipment (Loud, 1948, pp. 45–46) (see figure 3). Several stones carved in the shape of an eight segment of a sphere found nearby (Lamon and Shipton, 1939, pp. 24) suggest that a large horned altar erected of ashlars, similar to the Tel Beersheba altar, stood in the sanctuary's courtyard. [See Altars; Beersheba.]

It seems that stratum VA/IVB was destroyed by fire, but it is presently unclear when and by whom. Indications of destruction were uncovered in a number of places, primarily palace 6000, building 10, the gatehouse to the compound of palace 1723, and structures on the north.

Megiddo is mentioned in the list of cities conquered by Sheshonq I (biblical Shishak) during his campaign to Israel and Judah in about 925 BCE. Furthermore, Fisher (1929) found a fragment of a stone-carved stela erected by that pharaoh at Megiddo. It is estimated that the complete stela was about 3.30 m high and 1.50 m wide; it had stood not far from its findspot on the eastern side of the site. Albright (1943, p. 29, no 10) proposed that Solomonic Megiddo was destroyed by Sheshonq I, but it seems more likely that the pharaoh erected his stela in an existing city with the intention of holding it in the future (so that stratum VA/IVB must have been destroyed later).

Two decorated seals inscribed in Hebrew were uncovered by Schumacher in gatehouse 1567 in the palace 1723 compound: “(belonging) to Asaph” and “(belonging) to Shema, Servant of Jeroboam.” They probably belonged to royal Israelite officials. Two more inscribed seals were found nearby, in Schumacher's dumps. The Shema seal is usually ascribed to the reign of Jeroboam II (784–748 BCE), but some scholars (e.g., Ussishkin, 1994) ascribe it to the period of Jeroboam I (928–907 BCE). If that is so, the compound of palace 1723, and probably all of the stratum VA/IVB city, would not have been destroyed prior to 928–907. [See Seals.]

Stratum IVA.

The city of stratum IVA differs radically from that of VA/IVB because the role of the city changed with the Divided Monarchy. The city of stratum VA/IVB, a civilian district center characterized by palatial compounds, became a fortified stronghold in stratum IVA. Its date of construction is not clear. In view of the identification of the “stable compounds” as stable for horses (see below), many scholars date this city level to the reign of Ahab (873–852 BCE), known from Assyrian records of the battle of Karkar to have had strong cavalry and chariotry. Ahaziah, king of Judah, may have died at Megiddo in stratum IVA, fleeing before Jehu's men (2 Kgs. 9:27).

City wall 325 (about 3.6 m thick), stone built with insets and offsets, surrounded the city. The entrance was through a complex city gate—the so-called Solomonic gate (Loud, 1948, pp. 46–57). A roadway led to an outer gatehouse; the latter opened to an open court, and behind it was the inner, four-entry gatehouse that adjoined the city wall. The inner gatehouse rested on massive foundations built with ashlars in secondary use that were supported by a constructional fill. The foundations and ground plans of the gate complex are similar to the tenth-ninth century BCE gates at Hazor, Gezer, Ashdod, Lachish, and probably Tel Batash (ancient Timnah). [See Ashdod; Lachish; Batash, Tel.]

The construction date of the city gate is controversial. Stratigraphically, it adjoins city wall 325 and is contemporary with it—and thus belongs to stratum IVA. A growing number of scholars, notably Aharoni (1972), Ze'ev Herzog (1986), Ussishkin (1980), Kempinski (1989), and Finkelstein, concur. It follows that the gate complex dates to the period of the Divided Monarchy. Yadin (1958, 1970, 1980) believed that the four-entry gatehouse originated in stratum VA/IVB and was built by Solomon's architects. This dating is primarily based on the similarity in plan between this gate and the four-entry gates at Hazor and Gezer. All three were built by Solomon (1 Kgs. 9:15). Yadin (1970; 1980) offered a new interpretation of the stratigraphy to explain how the gatehouse antedates city wall 325 (which in fact adjoins it) this stratigraphy and dating are followed by most scholars.

A large water system was built to protect, as well as to facilitate, the approach to the spring at the bottom of the west slope (Lamon, 1935). It was originally assigned to the twelfth century BCE, but Yadin (1970) redated it. Gallery 629 (the stratum VA/IVB postern leading to the spring) and the approach to the spring from outside were then blocked. A vertical shaft was dug from the surface, its lower part hewed out of the rock, and steps were prepared along its sides. A rock-cut horizontal tunnel led from the bottom to the spring. In a later stage the horizontal tunnel was deepened, enabling the water to flow to the bottom of the shaft. [See Water Tunnels.]

Two “stable compounds” were uncovered (Lamon and Shipton, 1939, pp. 32–47) and identified by Guy (1931, pp. 37–48) as stables for horses—associating them with Solomon's “cities for chariots and cities for horses” (1 Kgs. 9:19). Several scholars (e.g., Lamon and Shipton, 1939; Yadin, 1976; Holladay, 1986; Davies, 1986) supported the identification of the structures as stables, while others (e.g., Pritchard, 1970; Herzog, 1973; Herr, 1988) argued for their different use as barracks, public storehouses, or market-places. This discussion assumes that they were stables for horses. The southern compound contains five stabling units. Each unit (about 21 × 11 m) contains a central lime-paved passage and two side, stone-paved aisles. Each aisle is separated from the central passage by a row of stone pillars alternating with stone mangers made of ashlars taken from the Solomonic palaces. The side aisles served as stalls for the horses, each pillar and the adjoining manger marking the position of one horse. Many pillars had holes in their corners for tethering. Each aisle could accommodate 15 horses—hence, each unit contained 30 horses and the entire complex had 150. The stables opened into a spacious, lime-paved square courtyard (about 55 × 55 m). It has been suggested (Lamon and Shipton, 1939, p. 35) that a unit of chariots was stationed in this compound and the courtyard used for its training. The northern complex contained similar stabling units, but they were not built uniformly around a large courtyard. It could hold 300–330 horses; altogether, 450–480 horses were garrisoned at Megiddo.

A large stone storage pit (no. 1414), uncovered midway between the two stable compounds, was assigned to stratum III (Lamon and Shipton, 1939, pp. 66–68). However, it probably belongs to stratum IVA, where it was the central silo for the horses' provisions (Ussishkin, 1994, pp. 424–426). The pit was at least 7 m deep; its diameter at the bottom is 7 m (for a capacity of about 450 cu m). Remains of chaff and grains were found inside. Assuming that each horse consumed about 9.61 of food a day, the pit could have held supplies for 300–330 horses for about 130–150 days.

Stratum III.

In 732 BCE, Tiglath-Pileser III annexed northern Israel to Assyria, and Megiddo became the capital of the Assyrian province Magiddu (stratum III). [See Assyrians.] City wall 325 continued in use, but a new city gate was constructed. Remains of one or two gatehouses superimposed above the four-entry inner gatehouse were uncovered. The upper one was a stratum III two-entry gatehouse. To the west of the city gate, two or three public buildings (nos. 1052, 1369, 1853) were uncovered that display Assyrian architectural features, in particular central, rectangular courtyards. It is clear that they were administrative or residential centers. Excavations resumed in this area in 1994 revealed a number of building stages. The buildings had not been destroyed by fire, but few finds were recovered. The absence of finds, in particular of Assyrian objects, is puzzling because the buildings were Assyrian provincial centers. Residential quarters extended over large areas of the city, with houses arranged in blocks separated by evenly spaced and parallel streets.

Strata II and I.

Stratum II dates to the seventh century BCE. Its remains, uncovered across the site, include mainly domestic structures that follow the stratum III pattern. The stratum III Assyrian public buildings may have continued in use in stratum II. Remains of buildings uncovered near the site's upper periphery indicate that city wall 325 had fallen into disuse in stratum II or I sometime before the settlement ended.

A large structure (about 69 × 48 m), with a large central court, at the eastern edge of the site, was uncovered by Schumacher (1908, pp. 110–121) as part of the Tempelburg and by Fisher, who identified it as a stratum II fortress (Lamon and Shipton, 1939, pp. 83–86). The stone walls are about 2.5 m thick at foundation level. According to Lamon and Shipton (1939), the fortress was built above the disused city wall 325, the settlement's only fortification. (Both conclusions are doubtful.)

In 609 BCE, Pharaoh Necho reached Megiddo on his way to Carchemish to aid Assyria against Babylon. Josiah, king of Judah, met Necho at Megiddo and was executed by him (2 Kgs. 23:29–30; 2 Chr. 35:20–24). Stratum I represents ordinary remains (many small houses, three long storerooms near the city gate, and a number of stone-built cist tombs) of the last settlement in the Babylonian and Persian periods. Tel Megiddo was abandoned in the fourth century BCE, possibly when Alexander the Great conquered the region in 332 BCE.

Later Periods.

A Jewish village, Kefar 'Otnay, existed south of the site in about 100 CE. During Hadrian's reign (117–138 CE) the Legio II Traiana was stationed there and was later replaced by the Legio VI Ferrata. Kefar 'Otnay, renamed Legio after the occupying force, became the center of an administrative district whose name is preserved in the name of the later Arab village, Lejjun. Schumacher (1908) investigated extensive remains of the Roman and Arab periods, including aqueducts, a theater, tombs, and a possible site of a Roman camp to the south. He also uncovered some late remains, notably an Ottoman watchtower on the east.

[See also the biographies of Aharoni, Albright, Alt, Dunayevsky, Fisher, Guy, Kenyon, Mazar, Schumacher, Watzinger, and Yadin.]


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David Ussishkin