Tel Megiddo National Park
Tel Megiddo National Park Review
A UNESCO World Heritage site, this ancient city was built on foundations dating back to the biblical era. Today called Tel Megiddo National Park, it's one of the region's most impressive ruins. Allocate about 90 minutes to see the park.
Most people are fascinated by the ancient water system. In a masterful stroke, King Ahab's engineers dug a deep shaft and a horizontal tunnel through solid rock to reach the vital subterranean spring outside the city walls. With access secure, the spring's original opening was permanently blocked. There is nothing more than a trickle today, though, the flow perhaps choked by subsequent earthquakes. As you descend 180 steps through the shaft, traverse the 65-yard-long tunnel under the ancient city wall, and climb up 83 steps at the other end, look for the ancient chisel marks and hewn steps. A visit to the water system at noon offers a reprieve from the summer heat.
Apart from the ancient water system, don't miss the partially restored Late Bronze Age gate, perhaps the very one stormed by Egyptian troops circa 1468 BC, as described in the victory stela of Pharaoh Thutmose III. A larger gate farther up the mound was long identified with King Solomon (10th century BC)—Megiddo was one of his regional military centers—but has been redated by some scholars to the time of Ahab, a half century later. There is consensus, however, on the ruined stables at the summit of the tell: they were certainly built by Ahab, whose large chariot army is recorded in an Assyrian inscription.
Evidence indicates prehistoric habitation here as well, but among the earliest remains of the city of Megiddo are a round altar dating from the Early Bronze Age and the outlines of several Early Bronze Age temples, almost five thousand years old, visible in the trench between the two fine lookout points.
A tiny museum at the site's entrance offers good visual aids, including maps, a video, and a model of the tell. A small gift shop alongside the museum sells handsome silver and gold jewelry, some incorporating pieces of ancient Roman glass. There is also a restaurant.