UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ahab’s chariot city.
by Israel Nature and Parks Authority
Megiddo National Park, encompassing the ancient biblical mound of Megiddo, whose universal value has won it a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List, is located at the western entrance to the Jezreel Valley in the Lower Galilee, on an important ancient and modern crossroad. At the beginning of the third millennium BCE, Megiddo was already a fortified city with huge walls, and 1,000 years later it became a center of Egyptian rule over Canaan. Strategically, it was invaluable: It controlled the end of the Iron Valley in the heart of the ancient Via Maris (the Way of the Sea), which linked Egypt and Damascus. The Egyptian pharaoh Thutmoses III took Megiddo in 1468 BCE during his campaign to entrench Egypt’s power over the region.
Megiddo was taken by the Israelites apparently only at the time of King David, and the city flo urished during the time of King Solomon. In 924 BCE, Pharaoh Shishak conquered Megiddo, but the city was rebuilt, and in Ahab’s time it became an important chariot city. In 732 BCE, the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III took the city. Later, King Josiah of Judah was killed there after facing off against Pharaoh Neco. The city was abandoned after the Persian period. Megiddo is identified with Armageddon, the scene of the battle of the End of Days according to Revelation 16.
At the Megiddo Museum, visitors can see an audiovisual presentation and models of the site’s complex archaeology. On the mound, highlights include the Late Bronze Age gate (1500–1200 BCE), the palace; ‘Solomon’s Gate’ the panoramic northern lookout; the southern lookout with a shady area for pilgrims’ prayers; stables and the water system - testimony to the amazing abilities and initiative of its engineers.
The water system probably began as a reservoir in King Solomon’s day, when a path between parallel walls led to the spring outside the city walls. Later, apparently during Ahab’s time, a more complex system was built to conceal the spring and allow people to draw water without leaving the city walls. The system includes a 25-meter-deep shaft to bedrock. At the bottom, a 70-meter-long, 3-meter-high tunnel was dug. The floor of the shaft was lower than the spring, allowing water to flow from the spring to the shaft, where people could draw their water. A wall was built to conceal the location of the spring.
How to get there?
Located between the Megiddo and Yokne‘am junctions (road no. 66), about 2 km west of the Megiddo junction; bus 056 from Afula Ilit to Yokne’am.