In the 2000 season we continued to dig in the same six areas we had excavated in 1998: Area F on the lower terrace; Area H in the north; Area J in the cult compound of the Early Bronze Age in the east; Area K in the southeast; Area L in the northeast; and Area M in the center of the mound, in and around the trench dug by Gottlieb Schumacher at the beginning of the 20th century.
Excavations at Area F aim at investigating the occupational history of the lower terrace of the mound. The previous season revealed remains of an Iron I settlement (Level F-5) close to the surface, and lower down, remains of a monumental Late Bronze II building (Level F-9, 14th or 13th century BCE), an unfortified Late Bronze I town (Level F-10, 15th century BCE) and an earthen Middle Bronze embankment. This season we continued clarifying the various stages of the Late Bronze I settlement [see right]. Under the houses of this level we encountered remains of two Middle Bronze settlements (Levels F-11 and F-12). The relationship between the earth embankment and the settlements inside it has not yet been established. Finkelstein opts for dating the embankment to the MBII, whereas Ussishkin and Halpern tend to date it to the LBI.
Area H is designed as the main sectional trench on the northern sector of the mound, immediately to the west of Area AA of the University of Chicago excavations. Previous seasons revealed remains of the last Israelite city (Level H-3) which was destroyed by the Assyrians in 732 BCE. Excavation in 1998, and especially in 2000, uncovered remains of two earlier phases of this settlement (Levels H-4 and H-5 [pictured above]). All three phases correspond to the University of Chicago's Stratum IVA. This city is represented by a single construction activity in the public sectors of Megiddo, while the domestic ector of Area H revealed minute changes in its occupational history. The fortification of the Stratum IVA city - offsets and insets City Wall 325 which was unearthed by the Oriental Institute team - was built in phase H-5 or H-4. The next settlement down - Level H-6 - seems to correspond to the University of Chicago's Stratum VA-IVB.
The goal of the 2000 season in Area J was to locate the temple of Level J-4 (Early Bronze Ib, the second half of the fourth millennium BCE). To that end, we continued excavating on both sides - north and south - of the monumental parallel walls that probably enclosed the sacred compound. The picture has now become clear: there are no monumental remains to the south of the walls; the temple lies to the north of the parallel walls. In that sector of Area J we uncovered two monumental pillar bases of the original temple [pictured above] as well as its back (northern) wall. The temple was apparently of the broadroom type, with two rows of pillars supporting the roof. In a later phase of this level (late J-4) the floor of the temple was raised and bones were deposited in the hall.
In the western end of the area we tried to locate the edge of the monumental, parallel temenos walls of Level J-4. To our amazement, we discovered that the system - already 45 meters long - continues further to the west. The stratigraphic situation inside the temple drew our attention back to the cache of Egyptianized vessels which was found in one of the corridors between the parallel walls in the 1996 season. Two different opinions on the date of the cache were presented in Megiddo III. Alex Joffe tended to date them to the very late Early Bronze Ib, while Israel Finkelstein and David Ussishkin opted for a date in the Early Bronze III. It seems now that Joffe was right: the cache seems to belong to the same phase as the later activity in the temple hall. Excavation continued near (and under) the round altar of the Early Bronze III. Under the thick layer of bone deposits from Level J-4, which were unearthed in 1998, we uncovered two more floors from the Early Bronze I (Levels J-3 and J-2), corresponding to the two temples 'hidden' in Temple 4040, which was excavated by the University of Chicago team in the 1930s and by us in 1992-1994 (see Megiddo III). Additional remains of the Level J-6 settlement (Early Bronze III) were unearthed in different parts of Area J
The removal of balks after the 1998 season, and of City Wall 325 this season, opened the way for a better understanding of the Level K-4 (Chicago's Stratum VIA) remains. The entire area is covered by a single courtyard building [right], constructed in the second millennium tradition. The eastern flank of the building was devoted to storage. A group of storage jars, including one collared rim jar, was found here. Altogether, the 1998 and 2000 seasons yielded an impressive ceramic assemblage from Level K-4, comprised of about 150 vessels. The assemblage does not include even a single bichrome Philistine vessel and must therefore date later than the bichrome phase in the sequence of Philistine pottery chronology .Fifteen samples of charred beams from Level K-4, which were extracted in the 1998 season, were sent to the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel, for radiocarbon dating. Six of the samples gave 11th century dates, while nine fell well within the 10th century BCE. Remains of Level K-5 - seemingly still within the range of the University of Chicago's Stratum VI - were uncovered in the closing days of the season under the Level K-4 building.
This season we concluded the excavation of a well-preserved pillared building of Level L-2 (University of Chicago's IVA). It belongs to the set of "northern stables" unearthed nearby in the 1920s. Their function - stables, store houses, market places or barracks - has been fiercely disputed. Samples of earth and plaster taken from the floors of the building in 1998 failed to resolve the mystery of their function. Disagreement continued also among the Directors of the Expedition, with Baruch Halpern maintaining a non-stable use for the structure, while Israel Finkelstein and David Ussishkin opting for the stables explanation. Excavation of Palace 6000 of Level L-3 (Yadin's VA-IVB) continued. The outer walls of the building are now fully exposed, though the clarification of the inner plan needs to wait for the 2002 season. Yadin, who discovered the building in the 1960s, argued that it was connected on both west and east to a casemate wall. Our excavation of the northeastern corner of Palace 6000 shows beyond doubt that there were no casemates here [see above left]. Rather, the walls of the palace cut through remains of simple houses of Levels L-4 (Chicago's Stratum VB) and the destruction of Level L-5 (Chicago's VIA). Preparations for presenting the palace and the pillared building to the public continue in cooperation with the National Parks Authority.
Area M was explored in two different sectors [see picture at right]: a lower one, inside the trench dug by Gottlieb Schumacher in the early 20th century, and an upper one, to the east of the trench. The most important find in the excavation of 'lower M' relates to the dating of the Nordburg which was uncovered by Schumacher a century ago. This large and massive building has been interpreted as a palace and dated to the Middle Bronze Age. Our investigation shows that the Nordburg was built in one of the later phases of the Late Bronze Age; remains from the Late Bronze and Middle Bronze were found under its foundations. In 'upper M' we uncovered a few Iron II levels and under them the destruction layer of a large building that belongs to the University of Chicago's Stratum VIA. The collapse of the brick walls of the building, with evidence for a fierce conflagration, was over one meter thick. Schumacher excavated a monumental, stone-built tomb in his trench, which is characterized by its corbelled roof. This monument - unique of its kind in Israel - was also dated, by most scholars, to the Middle Bronze Age. After excavating around it in 1998 we proposed to date the tomb to the last phase of the Late Bronze Age. The results of this season seem to indicate that the tomb was constructed in the Oriental Institute's Stratum VIA: the floor of the building in 'upper M' rests directly on - and adjusted to - the ceiling of the tomb.