Tel Megiddo (Armageddon) National Park

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Megiddo was one of the strongest and most important cities of Canaan. The remains of the palaces, temples, gates, and the sophisticated water system of the city are evidence of its great power.

 According to Christian tradition, an apocalyptic event will take place at the foot of Megiddo (Armageddon), and only the faithful will survive.

Points of interest

  • Exhibition and film of the history of the site
  • The remains of the Canaanite city
  • The remains of the Israelite city
  • The underground water system and underground tunnel

 

Geographic locatio

Megiddo National Park lies to the west of Road 66, some 2 km north of Megiddo junction.  

Lookout points

Northern lookout point: The lookout point by the Northern Palace rises some 60 m above the plains of the Yizre'el Valley. From here there is a beautiful view of Giv'at Hamore, Mt Tabor, the Gilboa, and the hills of Nazareth. In the west, the Carmel range can be seen.

 

Southern lookout point: Looks out over the point where the Iron Stream enters Yizre'el Valley, offering a clear demonstration of the strategic importance of Megiddo.

From the lookout points on Tel Megiddo, the places mentioned as the sites of decisive battles in the Bible and the New Testament can be seen before our eyes. Following the description of the apocalyptic vision in the Book of Revelation (the Apocalypse of John) in the New Testament, Christian pilgrims believe that Megiddo is Armageddon. According to this vision, the forces of good will clash with the forces of evil on the plain at the foot of Mt Megiddo in the battle of the end of days (Revelation 16), and after many calamities, the Kingdom of God on earth will arise. The Apocalypse of John drew its inspiration from the prophecies of Zachariah, in which there is a description of the battle of the Apocalypse in the valley of Megiddo.

 

Identity card

Tel Megiddo has been a declared national park since 1966, and covers an area of 190 dunams, encompassing the 60 dunam mound. Since 1903 there have been many seasons of excavation, and the many important remains that have been found have made it the focus of study of the biblical period in modern scientific research. In 2005, UNESCO declared Tel Megiddo as a world heritage site (along with the biblical tels of Hatzor and Be'er Sheva). The Megiddo region, including Tel Megiddo, is the first declared biosphere reserve in Israel. 

Reasons for declaration

Conservation of one of the most important tels in Israel from the biblical period, representing human settlement over thousands of years - from prehistoric times until the Israelite period. At the foot of the mound there was also a settlement in the Roman period.

​​​​Activities of the Nature and Parks Authority

  • Conservation of the site and restoration of the archaeological remains
  • Preparing the site for visitors
  • Making an entrance plaza with a model of the site, exhibition, and film on the history of Megiddo
  • Making the main parts of the site accessible to people with disabilities, including the water system
  • Kiosk and books, maps and souvenir shop

Points of interest in detail

The Canaanite period

The city gate and Canaanite palace: The main find from the Canaanite period are the city gate (15th century BCE), and the original stone paving from the period that leads to it. Alongside it is the Canaanite palace - the remains of a vast structure of rooms built around a central courtyard. In one of the rooms, spectacular items were found, including gold objects, hundreds of pieces of decorated ivory jewelry, and a washroom paved with shells.

The temple area: An interesting site in the "large section" excavated by the early archaeological expeditions at Megiddo. In this area, the earliest remains of the site were found. The temples were used as a ritual site for some 2000 years, until settlement by the Israelites (12th century BCE). In the large section, which was excavated down to the bedrock, more than 20 layers of settlement were found.

"The Aegean Tomb": In Gottlieb Schumacher's excavations, a pit was found above the temple area, in which there were the remains of an underground structure. The structure, which had an arched ceiling, was found empty and it is hard to date it or draw any conclusions as to its use. It appears to have been constructed in the Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age, and may have served for ritual purposes, or as a burial chamber.

 

Early Israelite period

The city gate: Not far from the Canaanite gate, a city gate from the 10th century BCE was found. The gate was part of the fortifications of the kings of Israel, and appears to have been built in the days of King Ahab. The stables found at two different sites at Megiddo were apparently also built at this time. The buildings are long, and contain evidence associating them with horses, such as troughs, and beams for tethering animals.

Palaces and the Assyrian quarter: Large buildings constructed of ashlar stone were found at Megiddo, which were used by the city governors and were Megiddo's public buildings. Near the Eastern Palace parts of a residential neighborhood have been excavated, including a four-room house - a building in a style characteristic of Israelite construction during First Temple times. The Southern Palace is a block of public buildings in a style that was common in the 10th century BCE interior, known as bit-hilani (house of pillars). Buildings of this kind have a large courtyard surrounded by rooms built on a number of stories, a magnificent entrance hall, and a large "throne room". Also from this period is a large round pit, whose walls are faced with rough stone. The excavators found grains of wheat in it, supporting its identification as a public granary.

An Assyrian quarter was also found, with six straight streets. This quarter served as a residential neighborhood after the Assyrian conquest (732 BCE). Nearby, the remains of a magnificent building were found, the only one of its kind in Israel, similar in plan to Assyrian palaces, although on a smaller scale.  

The water system: The jewel in the crown at Megiddo is the vast water system, apparently from the days of King Ahab (9th century BCE). The system was intended to bring water into the city without having to go outside the walls. The inhabitants of Megiddo dug a huge shaft, 25 m deep, from which they quarried out a horizontal tunnel that extends 70 m to a spring in a cave outside the city walls. Not far from the shaft of the water system is the "gallery" - the name given to a narrow, hidden passage leading from inside the walls to the spring at the foot of the city. The passage is covered, so as to conceal those passing along it. The gallery shortened the way to the spring. Before it was built, the residents had to go out of the city gate on the other side of Megiddo.   

Geography

Tel Megiddo lies on a high hilltop (157 m), which meets Ramat Menashe on one side, and the plains of Yizre'el Valley on the other. The tel has an incomparable strategic location - near to the point where the Iron Stream enters Yizre'el Valley, on the historic international highway connecting the cultural centers of Egypt, Syria and Mesopotamia. Its strategic location, and the abundance of fertile soil and water in the Yizre'el Valley are what made Megiddo one of the important cities of Canaan. It is no wonder that throughout history, many battles were fought over the control of Megiddo.

Archaeology and history

A small number of potsherds found at Megiddo are evidence that there was already human settlement at the site in the Neolithic period (6th millennium BCE). The city is mentioned in Egyptian inscriptions, among them in inscriptions describing the campaign of Pharaoh Thutmose III (1468 BCE). The Egyptian king set out for Israel to put down an uprising among the Canaanite cities, which rebelled against him under the sponsorship of the kingdom of Mitanni. Megiddo also joined the rebellion. The deciding battle, in which Thutmose III defeated the Canaanites, took place at Keni Stream, at the foot of Megiddo. According to the Egyptian description, Megiddo surrendered after a harsh, seven-month siege, and considerable booty was taken - 924 chariots, 2238 horses, a golden throne, and plentiful cattle and wheat. 

Megiddo is mentioned 11 times in the Bible. In the Book of Judges, it is mentioned as a city that the tribe of Menashe was unable to bequeath. It is therefore not known when the Israelites conquered Megiddo, but the kings of Israel renewed its fortifications, and at that time it became an important city in the Kingdom of Israel.

In the 10th century BCE, Megiddo was unable to withstand Pharaoh Shoshenq, who conquered it in his campaign of 925 BCE. Evidence of this is found in a fragment of a stele (inscription on stone) from this period, found in the mound. In the 9th century BCE, Hazael king of Aram came to Megiddo and destroyed it. Megiddo reached the peak of its development in the days of King Ahab, but it was captured by Tiglath-Pileser III, king of Assyria (732 BCE), who then controlled the entire Galilee. From the battle between King Josiah and Pharaoh Necho (609 BC) it may be concluded that the Kingdom of Judah briefly controlled Megiddo.

From then on, the city was in decline. In the 2nd century BCE the community moved from Megiddo to the village of Otnai, closer to today's Megiddo junction. After the Bar Kochba rebellion, the Roman Sixth Legion camped near the village, and its name was changed to Legio. At Legio (today the site of Megiddo prison) a rare 3rd century mosaic was found that explicitly mentions the name of Jesus. 

But history has given Megiddo an important role in modern times too. During World War I a decisive battle took place in the area, between the British and Ottoman armies. The British Army triumphed, and as a result General Allenby, commander of the British forces, won the title of "Lord of Armageddon".

The first archaeological excavations at the mound were carried out in 1903, led by Gottlieb Schumacher, under the auspices of the German Society for Oriental Research, and since then 30 layers of settlement have been uncovered at the site.

Flora

The natural vegetation of the mound is characteristic of places that have been impacted by human proximity. This is leafy vegetation, dominated by herbaceous plants. Important representatives of the grain family are bulbous barley (Hordeum bulbosum) and wild barley (Hordeum spontaneum). Other species that are typical of the mound are annuals such as white mustard (Sinapis alba) and hoary mustard (Hirschfeldia incana). Date palms also grow on the mound, and it is possible that these have grown from the pits of dates eaten there by the excavation team at the beginning of the 20th century. The Washingtonia palms on the mound are plants that have apparently invaded the area without human intervention. The independent establishment of Washingtonia seedlings is liable to cause damage to the antiquities.

On the hills outside the borders of the tel are shrubs characteristic of the habitats of Ramat Menashe and Yizre'el Valley, such as wild marjoram (Majorana syriaca) and cat-thyme germander (Teucrium capitatum), and among them, a wide range of herbaceous annuals.

Garden flowers also grow in the park, including ornamental species that are not native to Israel.

Wildlife

In and around the national park, animals living in the area of Ramat Menashe and the Yizre'el Valley are sometimes to be found. These include mammals such as the golden jackal (Canis aureus), European Badger (Meles meles), mongoose (Herpestes), red fox (Vulpes vulpes), and blind mole rat (Spalax). In the 1980s, an Egyptian weasel (Mustela subpalmata) was seen in the area of the park - an animal considered to be a species at risk of extinction.

Birds nest in the grounds of the national park, including the graceful warbler (Prinia gracilis), eastern olivaceous warbler (Hippolais pallida), European bee eater (Merops apiaster), white throated kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis), European turtledove (Streptopelia turtur), and Eurasian collared dove (Streptopelia decaocto). These birds enjoy the landscape of the mound, characterized by leafy vegetation and isolated trees. Near to the national park offices birds can be seen nesting in the trees, among them the yellow vented bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier), great tit (Parus major), the urban Syrian woodpecker (Dendrocopos syriacus), and the hooded crow (Corvus cornix). In the area of Ein Kubeiba, north of Road 66, live the Cetti's warbler (Cettia cetti), and eastern olivaceous warbler (Hippolais pallida), and in the open areas around the spring there are little owls (Athene noctua) and Francolinus.

How to get here: On Road 66 between Megiddo junction and Yokne'am junction, some 2 km north-west of Megiddo junction.

Bus no. 056 from Afula to Yokneam Ilite – for details, contact Egged Information.

 

Length of visit: 1 – 2 hours

 

Best season: All year round

 

Don't miss: The impressive water tunnel

 

Other attractions

  • Souvenir shop
  •  Museum
  •  Explanatory film
  • Guided visit by advance reservation 

Opening hours

Last entry to the park is one hour before closing time

 

summer:

Sunday - Thursday and Saturday – 8 am – 5 pm

Fridays and the eve of holidays – 8 am – 4 pm

 

Winter:

Sunday - Thursday and Saturday – 8 am – 4 pm

Fridays and the eve of holidays – 8 am – 3 pm

 

On the eves of New Year, the Day of Atonement, and Passover: 8 am – 1 pm

Contact us

Telephone: 04-65-316

Fax: 04-6401748

email: gl.megido@npa.org.il

Entrance fee

Adult – NIS 28, child – NIS 14

Group (over 30):  Adult - NIS 23, child - NIS 13

Student - NIS 24

Entry for dogs

Prohibited

 Further information

pdfsite pamphlet


    Content under construction, the information apears soon.

     In the Megiddo National Park adaptations to make the site accessible to people with disabilities are being made. Adaptations currently in place include:

    •  Parking
    • restroom
    • museum
    • souvenir store
    • restaurant

    32.586227,35.186097
    tel megido