'Taking Megiddo is like capturing a thousand cities'

Sights and Insights: In a new column, Dr. Wayne Stiles explores the biblical sites of Israel and how to make the most of a visit.

April 21, 2011 13:28
3 minute read.
View of Megiddo

Megiddo 311. (photo credit: Wayne Stiles)


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The site’s name first appeared on the pages of history when Thutmose III carved it on the walls of the Karnak Temple. As mentioned in Geography doesn’t change. That’s why Megiddo’s strategic location remained for centuries the envy of all who passed through the land of Israel. When someone conquered the site, they often would rebuild directly on top of the rubble of the previous inhabitants. It is no wonder today that Tel Megiddo’s towering ruins offer a stunning view of the Jezreel Valley.

For more than one hundred years, archaeologists have picked through the past at Tel Megiddo. Roughly twenty-six layers of occupation lie buried beneath its topsoil. The archaeologist’s spade has uncovered numerous finds, including city gates from multiple eras, a sacred area with a Canaanite altar, a grain silo, a water system, and buildings from the time of Ahab that were likely stables (though some argue they were storehouses). 

Although scholars disagree sharply over the chronology of the archaeological record (big surprise!), Megiddo remains an invaluable location even today.

Its buried treasures tell the story of those who lived there and those who died there defending the strategic pass along Israel’s International Highway.

Wayne StilesTo Do There: If you are unfamiliar with Megiddo’s history or geographical significance, plan to spend plenty of time at the instructive visitor’s center. A model of the tell allows a bird’s eye view of the city as it appeared in Omri’s day. Because Megiddo is a complex site and dense with history, it may help to do some reading before coming. Any visit should include the gate area (including gates from multiple eras), the sacred area, the grain silo, the stables (yes, I think they are stables), and a walk through the water system. If you want to participate in an archaeological dig at Megiddo, contact the Megiddo Expedition or Tel Aviv University. At the nearby Megiddo prison, a beautiful mosaic was discovered in 2005 that many believe dates to an early Christian church.

How to Get There: Take Route 65 toward Megiddo Junction and follow the signs.

Read Wayne’s blog and subscribe to his weekly Podcast at 

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