Virtually all tour groups will visit Tel Megiddo on the south side of the Jezreel Valley. From the mound, I have often pointed out the Israeli prison located to the southeast of Megiddo. Why? See below!
View from Megiddo looking southeast toward the prison—located beyond the trees in the upper right part of the image. Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download.
The above view is from the top of Megiddo, looking over the dump of the archaeologists toward the junction where the Wadi Ara enters the Jezreel Valley. The prison is located beyond the trees in the upper right of the image.
Why is this prison important? Well, in 2005 the remnants of a village were found there including wonderfully preserved mosaics from a Christian “house church” that dates to AD 230! OK. There might be some earlier house churches in Israel, but none, to my knowledge, that have mosaics like these.
This discovery is clearly reported, with multiple clear images, in Haaretz “A Jew, an Early Christian and a Roman Meet in Archaeological Park to Be built on Evacuated Prison.” Note the following image, from the article, that mentions “to God Jesus Christ!”
Inscription found in Roman-era prayer house in Othnay, inside Megiddo Prison compound: “The god-loving Akeptous has offered the table to God Jesus Christ as a memorial” Dr. Yotam Tepper . — from Haaretz article
There are many many implications of this discovery, please see the article (6 minute read).
Often times the gate of an ancient city was located at a low point that was easily approached—via an incline ramp—from outside the city.
View of the model of the six–chamber gate that was discovered at Megiddo. The initial excavators dated it to the days of King Solomon but today its dating is disputed—and some still prefer a Solomonic date.
Note how there are outer and inner gate houses—with a courtyard between them. Also note how towers abound in the gate houses and associated structures. As a city was being defended, the courtyard between the two gate houses could be viewed as a killing field whereby defenders could shoot down from their towers and wound and/or kill the attackers with arrows and/or spears. Even if attackers were merely incapacitated, they would lie there bleeding and moaning and other attackers—in the deafening bloody chaos—would have to climb over their bodies in order to try to gain entrance to the city. Of course they themselves were vulnerable to same the fate as their “colleagues.” This must have had a detrimental effect on the second wave’s enthusiasm to attack the city!
In addition, as the attackers attempted to make their way through the inner gate, they would have to break down its outer door. They would then be confronted with another killing field between the six chambers (three on each side) of the inner gate. In this area, defenders could be positioned directly above the attackers—shooting arrows down on them.
Model of the six–chamber gate (Solomonic) at Hazor. The dark green gate is located in the lower left portion of the image. (Outside the citadel is to the upper left of the gate) This particular gate has two projecting towers—one on each side. A double (casemate) wall is attached to the gate (also dark green).
As for “doors”—there does not seem to be too much physical evidence for how the gates were “sealed/closed.” However, we do know that in other structures that a pair of doors each swung on columns that could pivot in a socket. More on this, next post.
For some brief comments on the dating to the six–chamber gate at Megiddo Click Here. More on gates to follow.