Jezreel Valley Regional Project Archaeology and History of a Regional Landscape

Tel Megiddo

Introduction

Megiddo is a massive site, the core of which, the Tel Megiddo acropolis, is under excavation by The Megiddo Expedition of Tel Aviv University Institute of Archaeology under the direction of Israel Finkelstein and David Ussishkin. To the south of the tel lies the Roman-Ottoman portion of the site, variously called Maximianopolis, Kefar 'Othnay, Caparcotani, Legio, and El Lajjun.

Location


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Previous Excavations

Gottlieb Schumacher, 1903-1905

Oriental Institute of the University Chicago, 1925-1939

Yigael Yadin, 1960, 1966-1967, 1971

Immanuel Dunayevski and Aharon Kempinski, 1965

Current Excavations

The Megiddo Expedition, Tel Aviv University

Directors: Israel Finkelstein (Tel Aviv University) and Eric Cline (The George Washington University)

Stratigraphy

Early Bronze Age of Tel Megiddo

Since 1992, excavations at the acropolis have been carried out by the Tel Aviv University Megiddo Expedition (Finkelstein and Ussishkin 2000). As a member of that team, this JVRP director supervised the excavation of a massive monumental temple complex dating to the late 4th millennium BCE (Adams, forthcoming). The complex consists of an artificial platform with a revetment established by a 4m-wide stone wall (Figs. 3-5). This platform supports the largest single edifice of the period in the entire Levant, the “Great Temple.” This massive broad-room temple is some 50 meters wide and more than 30 meters long with a large sanctuary measuring 9 x 40 meters. The structure features 3.5-meter-thick walls enclosing hallways stacked high with the bone refuse from animal sacrifices. The sanctuary is stunningly appointed with twelve 1-ton basalt slabs carved into rectangular and circular shapes which appear to have been used as ritual tables. Perhaps most amazing is the perfection with which the temple was planned, engineered, and constructed. Its plan is meticulously laid out such that the thicknesses of walls and their distance from each other are exact in every dimension. The twelve giant basalt slabs are amazingly worked and precisely placed relative to each other. This is strong evidence for the birth of the disciplines of architecture and engineering, intellectual pursuits supported by a well-organized government.

Carbon 14 and artifact typological dating point to a date very near the end of the 4th millennium BCE for the construction of the temple (Early Bronze Age I), a time when Egypt is just forming a state and its familiar monumental stone construction is still 400 years in the future. Traditionally, archaeologists have considered the Early Bronze Age Levant as a backwater between the two emerging civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia. The Great Temple, however, forces us to reconsider this paradigm. Complex new forms of social and political organization must have been developing in the Jezreel Valley concurrently with the great powers abroad.

Ancient Sources

Primary Scholarship

Secondary Scholarship

Additional Bibliography

Mandate Period Archives relating to the Oriental Institute Expedition to Megiddo

Shipton, Geoffrey, M. Guide to Megiddo (Government of Palestine Guide to Antiquities, 1942).

 

 

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