And so to our last full day in Israel. We packed up and were on the road by just after ten, heading for Meggido, a tel about an hour’s drive from Galilee. The sun was shining but there was a nip in the air.
We passed Mount Tabor, resembling a large breast, the nipple being the church on the top – unfortunate, but there it is! Then we saw the sign to Maggido and pulled in to a pleasant car park with views over the Jezreel Valley. We paid our 28 shekels (the standard price for any National Park) and watched a short film explaining the site. There are 25 different layers of settlement in this tel, so sorting one out from another is a major job.
The tel controls the outlet of the Iron Valley to the Jezreel Valley and the Via Maris an international trade route linking Egypt with Mesopotamia, running up through Galilee and into the Bekaa Valley. It was one of the most important cities in the region throughout biblical times, having springs for water and fertile land around it. As a result it became the scene for some major battles and in Revelations Ha Megiddo or Armageddon is where the great battle between good and evil will be fought.
The settlement began in Neolithic times and flourished in the early Canaanite period (the Bronze Age). It became a powerful Canaanite city state during the third and second millenia BCE. It then became an Egyptian protectorate under Akhenaton. During the Israelite period it is mentioned in the books of Joshua and Judges. King Solomon rebuilt it after it was destroyed. Finally it was captured by the Assyrians and there is evidence of palaces and houses from that time (732BCE). Finally it was abandoned in the 3rd century BCE.
However if has been partly dug in the last two centuries and remarkable finds uncovered. Today it is a superb site, brilliantly laid out with a clear trail and useful info. boards, as well as a sheet with a map. At times it is a little difficult to work out what is what, but some of the structures are clear including two sets of stables which particularly interested Christine!
There is also an impressive gateway and a beautifully constructed granary with stairs built around it leading up and down. There is also an underground tunnel which brought water in to the site from a spring outside.
The views across the valleys are stunning. We wandered around for well over an hour, enjoying every minute. A great last visit of the holiday.
We continued on to Tel Aviv, but the location of the hotel was far from obvious. At one point we ended up in an airport service area, where a charming guard tried to help us. In the end we drove to the Hertz pick up point and decided to take taxi with all our bags etc. back to the hotel. A number of drivers were touting for business, but I had noted that there is a taxi control person who gives out the jobs in order and gives you the taxi number etc. We went to her and she showed us to a cab. She assured us it was only 4 Kms. The driver seemed slightly psychopathic and shouted at Dani as she tried to tell him where we wanted to go. It became clear he was taking us all around the houses. When eventually he got us to the hotel he asked us for 167 shekels ( about £4). I got very angry and said I would report him for over-charging, flashing the piece of paper with his number on it I had been given by his controller. Suddenly the price dropped to 100 shekels. We decided to pay that. He wanted my piece of paper, but I kept hold of it. I probably won’t report him, but he can sweat on that for a couple of days! The charming receptionist at the hotel said that 167 shekels was not so unreasonable! Luckily the hotel provides a complementary shuttle to the airport tomorrow morning. We have to leave at 6.00p.m.!
The hotel is clean, pleasant and soulless but will do us for the next 12 hours. I have found my vest, fleece and thick jumper for tomorrow’s return to the U.K.! Sounds like we are in for a bit of a shock weather wise! What a wonderful 12 days it has been, though! We have seen some amazing sites, have a much better impression of the Holy Land, and met some delightful people.