I love Megiddo! As someone that offers guided archaeological tours of Israel, Tel Megiddo and Beit Shean will leave a formidable impression on you! The two combined together in one visit will be very educational. As someone that gives private archaeological tours in Israel, they are on the top of my list!
Welcome to Megiddo!
One of the most distinctive features of the Biblical landscape is artificial mounds called Tels. When I’ll carefully drive you to the Jezreel Valley this is exactly what you will see. Mound Megiddo rises high over the flat terrain. As a private tour guide in Israel I get asked a lot of the following questions:
What Is An Archaeological Tell?
Now, most people think that Tells are formed by accumulations of one city on the other. In other words, building a city over and over again in the same spot creates a sort of an artificial mound. But that’s actually only partially true! In my guided archaeological tours of Israel, I tend to emphasize to my guests that It’s true that a tell is made up of layers of occupation laid out on top of the other. But it’s not just the building of one city on top of another.
Why There Are Tels Only In The Ancient Near East Like in Israel?
When you think about it, tels are found in various parts of the Ancient Near East like in Palestine. But there are not found in other parts of the ancient world! Have you ever seen a Tel in Italy? There aren’t any tels in other parts of Europe. Or for that matter elsewhere in the world.
There are other places around the world where you have continuously occupied spots, where cities existed for centuries and even millennia! one on top of the other. But still, we don’t have Tells in those places!
So the fact of the matter is that tels aren’t formed just by layers of civilization one on top of the other in the same spot over the course of a long period but they formed specifically because of something else that we find only in certain parts of the Ancient Near East and that has to do with fortifications.
If you’ll go the viewpoint of the tel you could see what every archaeologist should get a kick of all the various layers of civilization, 25 of them are situated on top of one another: From the Late Bronze Age till the University of Chicago that excavated the site in the 1920’s reached the bedrock.
I would recommend you to stop and eat in some excellent restaurants in the area for some tips about where to eat in the Jezreel Valley check out my post:
Welcome To Tel Beit-Shean!
Another major archaeological tel in the area worth visiting is Tel Beit Shean. Right after entering the site, you’ll see something interesting! The Biblical Tel is right in front of you. But the stratum dated to the Roman-Hellenistic period is all spread out just below the Tel! If you’ll dare to climb up the archaeological tell you’ll see an amazing view of the ancient city.
I recommend you as a certified private tour guide in Israel not to visit Tel Beit Shean in the summer (July-August). The temperature rises to over 100F (40C), if you do choose to drink lots of water, wear hats for protection and bring umbrellas against the sun!