If you’re new to Dangerously Daydreaming I’d like to offer you a very warm welcome and quick explanation: I went on a humanitarian aid trip to Israel back in November and am still relaying bit-by-bit the tales of that adventure.
After I posted the photo of Tel Megiddo on Friday I realized it would make for the perfect post today if I told you all about it!
Our first day in Israel was a whirlwind of activity. After taking the red-eye from London, we arrived in Tel Aviv early in the morning and it was off to get our first glimpse of the Mediterranean Sea and the ruins of Caesarea. By mid-afternoon we were off to see Tel Megiddo – a city of great strategic value over the ages that overlooks the Jezreel Valley at the head of Carmel Ridge.
The city was built on a hilltop and as we trekked the well worn gravel trail I soaked up the sunshine that beat down overhead. There was a good wind sweeping over the hilltop that waved palm tree fronds to and fro and cooled us perfectly, acclimated as we were to Washington’s rainy autumn. In no time, we had reached the main gate of the ruined city. Three layers of stone evidenced that this gate had been destroyed and rebuilt over the centuries. The gate had three sections we had to pass through, a strategic function that would have funnelled any invading armies as they entered so that defenders wouldn’t be overrun.
We were shown the remnants of stables built during the reign of Ahab complete with mangers hewn from stone – enough space to stable hundreds of horses. And the view of the Jezreel Valley below us was all-encompassing. A haze from the heat of the day had settled over the valley but the view still stretched for miles all around with only the Carmel Mountain Range at our backs.
Some of the city was still in the process of being excavated by archeologists and was cordoned off to keep us out but we could look into the dig areas. A huge stone table rested ominously in a dig site and we were told that it had once been a place for human sacrifice during the Canaanite era. In another spot a city granary had been unearthed and even had steps curling around both sides of the well-like structure to allow access to the grain stored within.
We learned of the many battles that had taken place near Tel Megiddo, of it’s strategic importance along the trade route that ran north and south, and how the city’s name of “Har Megiddo” (Hebrew for Mount of Megiddo) was associated with Armageddon and a final, apocalyptic battle that some say will take place there. From Egypt’s ancient Thutmose III, to Israel’s B.C. King Saul, to England’s WWI General Allenby – Megiddo has served as a critical point in warfare within the region. It was chilling to see how such forethought, strategy, and planning had gone into this one city. It held a place of great significance in history where powerful kings had fallen, victories and defeats of nations had occurred, and where some mark the end of this world. How could we be anything by inspired by this crucial and sobering place?
Our last stop was down, down, down into the earth to walk a tunnel that had been bored through rock and lead to a pool that was the city’s water source. The climate of the region has changed so much over the millenia that this “pool” of water has been reduced to more of a slimy puddle. We emerged from the tunnel, climbed the stairway and got to walk the perimeter of the city before leaving.
Tel Megiddo was phenomenal to explore but more than anything I’m still amazed by the importance it has played in history and continues to play even now as archeologists continue digging and discover more about the past. And then there’s the little thing of the future and this final battle. Could such an event really happen there?
Oh, and before I go, some exciting news: I’ve been featured as a guest blogger! The wonderful Ranting Chef has been kind enough to highlight my Butternut Squash Mac’n'Cheese recipe over at his blog. Pat is an excellent chef with some fantastic recipes and I’m so honored that he let me share in the love of food over at his place. Check it out and say “hi” for me!