Digging into Ancient History

In northern Israel, scholars from many disciplines and countries work side by side to survey, excavate, and attempt to understand how people have lived ever since the Stone Age.

One of those researchers is fourth-year graduate student Nicholas Kraus (Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations), who joined the Tel Megiddo excavation in 2010 when he was still an undergraduate at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. He’s returned almost every summer since then, to work there and on the nearby Jezreel Valley Regional Project (JVRP).

Megiddo is strategically located above the most important land route in the ancient Near East. During the Bronze Age (3500-1200 BCE), it was an important Canaanite city-state, and in the Iron Age it was a royal city in the Kingdom of Israel. It stood on the crossroads of international traffic for more than 6,000 years. As civilizations came and went, succeeding settlements were built on the ruins of their predecessors, creating a multi-layered archaeological mound, or “tel,” containing the ruins of streets, houses, temples, palaces, fortifications – even an engineered water system. Digging there has gone on intermittently since the early 20th century, but beginning 1994, systematic scientific excavation has been carried out under the auspices of Tel Aviv University.