Tel Megiddo is located near Kibbutz Megiddo in the Ramat Menashe region in Northern Israel, adjacent to the Jezreel Valley. It is one of Israel’s most beautiful and most impressive archaeological sites.
As the site has been mentioned 11 times in the Bible, it is proof that there was a human settlement in this area thousands of years ago. The area is full of historical monuments including temples, gates, palaces and an advanced water system. With its strategic position, an abundance of fertile fields and water supply from the Valley, this ancient city was once an important site in the Land of Canaan. In 2005, Tel Megiddo was chosen by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a World Heritage Site the site has existed since the biblical period and has been preserved with a continuous human settlement for a few thousand years.
Tel Megiddo covers an area of 60 dunams which equals to 0.06 square kilometres and is located 60 meters above the plains of the Jezreel Valley. You can appreciate Megiddo’s strategic importance when you visit Tel Megiddo, from which you can see Givat Hamoreh, Mount Tabor, Mount Gilboa and the hills of Nazareth, while the Carmel Mountain Range is in the west. The southern portion of the tell is situated along the contours of the ancient maritime route that passed through the Iron River and which connected Egypt and Syria. If you stand in the southern portion, you can see where the river begins in the Jezreel Valley. Megiddo’s strategic position explains why it became a coveted prize of conquest and why so many battles were fought around the city throughout history.
In various archaeological excavations conducted in the area from 1903 onwards, many finds dating from the 15th century B.C.E. have been unearthed, including a stone floor leading to the city’s gate, an Assyrian residential quarter with six streets and, adjacent to this quarter, an elaborate structure. The structure is the only one of its kind in Israel and because of its similarity to Assyrian palaces, it has been given the name “the Ivory Palace.” The palace has hundreds of decorative ivory ornaments and jewels. Tel Megiddo includes a broad cross-section that gives an impressive picture of the tell’s many layers. The focal element in Tel Megiddo is undoubtedly the water system, the ninth century B.C.E. (during the reign of King Ahab of Israel, which was constructed to supply water to the city without requiring its residents to emerge from behind its walls. The water system is an impressive engineering project for its time: It consists of a vertical shaft that descends to a depth of 25 meters and which connects with a 70-meter horizontal tunnel that reaches a spring located outside the city.
Since it is mentioned in the New Testament, Megiddo is a popular site for Christian pilgrims and in 1964, Pope Paul VI paid a visit there. Ancient mosaics linked to Christianity were discovered on this site in 2011. After an assessment, it is believed that these mosaics belonged to one of the most ancient churches in the world. This discovery has turned Tel Megiddo into a crucial site for Christians. Archaeological excavations conducted following the discovery of the mosaics led to the discovery of a rare treasure trove of jewels dating back to the Iron Age. The site has been declared as a National Park and thus there is an admission fee. There are trails that visitors can use to explore the site, as well as a parking lot, drinking water, and public washrooms. It takes about two hours to visit Tel Megiddo, and the site is open all year round. Guided tours can be arranged in advance.