Development Site - Changes here will not affect the live (production) site.

A Millennia-Old Tomb Sheds Light on Pre-Biblical Canaan

March 15, 2018 | Philippe Bohstrom
About the author:

Archaeologists have recently discovered a richly appointed burial chamber, thought to be 3,600 years old, in the ancient fortress city of Megiddo—known in the New Testament as Armageddon. Philippe Bohstrom writes:

The extraordinary discovery . . . has stunned archaeologists, not only for the array of wealth found in the tomb but also for the potential insight it may provide into the royal dynasty that ruled this powerful center before its conquest by Egypt in the early 15th century BCE. . . . The chamber contained the undisturbed remains of three individuals—a child between the ages of eight and ten, a woman in her mid-thirties, and a man aged between forty and sixty—adorned with gold and silver jewelry including rings, brooches, bracelets, and pins. The male body was discovered wearing a gold necklace and had been crowned with a gold diadem, and all of the objects demonstrate a high level of skill and artistry. . . .

The grave goods point to the cosmopolitan nature of Megiddo at the time and the treasures it reaped from its location on the major trade routes of the eastern Mediterranean. Along with jewelry, the tomb contained ceramic vessels from Cyprus and stone jars that may have been imported from Egypt. The rich adornment of the tomb’s inhabitants appears to indicate a complex and highly stratified society, in which an exceptionally wealthy and powerful elite had been elevated above most of Megiddo’s society. . . .

Currently a broad DNA study is being carried out on many individuals unearthed at Megiddo—those from the “royal” tomb as well as those who received less elaborate burials in other domestic areas of the site. The ancient DNA results could for the first time reveal whether the common inhabitants of the Canaanite city-state were of the same background as the elite. “These studies have the potential to revolutionize what we know about the population of Canaan,” said [the excavation’s director, Israel] Finkelstein, “before the rise of the world of the Bible.”

Read more on National Geographic:

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register Already a subscriber? Sign in now