Saturday, June 6, 2009

Tel Megiddo

This morning we set out for Megiddo. This will be the site of the upcoming last great battle of the world according to the Book of Revelations (Armageddon is a corruption of the Hebrew Har Megiddo). We wanted to make sure we got there before all the raping and pillaging started. The boy asked to be excused after a difficult night out, but Justin, a visitor of squints from the US, was good company.

I was surprised how close by Megiddo is. It took 55 minutes from the Daniel Hotel to the entrance to the site, so as usual we were early. They opened the gates a few minutes before 8am and we were in. They have a small visitor's center with pictures of the finds and explanations of the thirty cities build one atop the other. There is an impressive model of the "chariot city", built by King Solomon in the 10th century B.C.E. Remains have been uncovered on the site starting from around 4000 B.C.E.

From the visitor's center we made our way up to the ruins. You enter through the northern gate where there are remains of the various entrances, including this impressive staircase. The walls have been rebuilt and their solid, thickness is testament to some excellent stonemasonry.

From the various lookout points it's easy to see why Megiddo was so strategic and was attacked and occupied by many empires throughout history. It sits at the head of a mountain pass on the Western end of the Jezreel Valley and overlooks the ancient road from Egypt in the south to Syria and Mesopotamia in the north.

Many remains are scattered all through the site. I suppose the pottery and other smaller artifacts are to be found in museums all over the world but there remain carved stones and evidence of large scale building everywhere.

At the center of the site is a large grain silo. During the excavation they reputedly found wheat stalks still stuck between the rocks. There are also two huge horse stables at opposite ends of the site. Many of the stone hitching posts and limestone mangers still remain.

It is a large site with evidence of many digs and there still remains much to be uncovered. There are also the remains of many impressive temples from the six millennia of Megiddo's history, with evidence of temples built upon temples built upon temples.

The impressive water system dating from the 9th century B.C.E. has been uncovered. Like all these ancient water systems it is an example of extraordinary engineering. It consists of a shaft dug 120 feet down into the rock (with 183 steps, you are warned on entering). This then meets a 200 foot tunnel that leads to a spring outside the city walls. The spring, deep underground, still holds water as this frog lounging happily could tell you.

Megiddo is still an active dig and the University of Tel Aviv is planning it's next excavation season from June 13 to July 27th 2010. See you there?


Shawn said...

When Jacky and I went there we saw a bunch of 6" long, thick, black millipedes. They just looked poisonous, so we stayed away. That and the incredible water system is what I remember most.

blackpetero said...

They are still there, those black millipedes. We saw then and I actually took some pictures of them. I wonder if they ate then in ancient times? I heard they taste like chicken.