In between personal, familial and financial failures, Mark Twain took time to see the world and insult the peoples, locales, and histories of the places he visited. It is in this tradition of being annoyingly unsatisfied and too smart for our own good that we present "Not So Innocent Abroad:" a deplorable, ethnocentric, at times hilarious, and always historically unreliable dump on every place we have ever visited.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
In a nook of the Fertile Crescent is the little ruin of Tel Megiddo. While this pile of dirt and sand may not look like much, its position falls along the cross road of several ancient roots taken by the conquering powers of the Tigris and Euphrates whenever they intended to pay the Pharaohs of Egypt a visit. This quaint little township, once the Northern governmental seat of the Canaanites and ancient Hebrews, saw more action over the past few thousand years than Wilt Chamberlain and doesn’t seem to have endured quite so well. The sandy mound juts out of a fertile valley dominated by Israeli Communists and looks like a cross section of baklava. Its 25 layers commemorate the 25-time separate times the city rose and was burned to grounds by an invading force. This history of the stubborn citizens of Megiddo begins in 7000 BCE and finally ending in 586 BCE when the Babylonians invaded Canaan for the purpose of nabbing some ancient Hebrews and burning Solomon’s temple to ground. This Detroit of the Middle East now stands a broken ruin being uncovered layer by layer by archeologists, a testament to the Jewish peoples willingness to rebuild and get destroyed over and over and over again, beginning a tradition that lasts even until today.
Now a warning to all those interested in settling on ruins of Megiddo, opening up a mud brick concern, and raising a couple of Israelites beneath an olive grove. Not surprisingly this cross roads of wanton destruction has reached biblical proportions and like all hills in Israel has crucial religious significance to the worlds Christians. In keeping with traditional patterns of unhappy people seeking an end to the suffering of a dismal existence, Christian theologians from the late Roman Empire and Medieval period have given Megiddo the eschatological honor of being the site on which the final battle of good and evil will be fought. Many Christians firmly believe that the end of days, (Armageddon) will come when God shoot fire at Gog and Magog and banishes Satan to the depths of Gehenna for a thousand years. The devils defeat will begin a 1000-year period of sinless boredom and daily church bake sales.
Even if you don’t believe in Eschatological Christianity you should still be aware that Megiddo and the valley it overlooks has been the site of two significant Battles in the 20th century including British General Edmund Allenby’s routing of the Ottomans and occupation of Palestine in 1918, beginning a 30 year British headache known as the Mandate Period. The site was again host to a second battle during the Israeli War for Independence in 1948, beginning another tradition of near constant conflict and destruction in the region between the modern Hebrews and all of their neighbors.
Tel Megiddo today is a part of the Israeli National Parks Service and a well-preserved site of archeological finds dating back to the Bronze Age (3300-1200 BCE). It is open year round and cost around 7 American dollars (25 Israeli Shekels) for adults and 3 dollars for children (12 Israeli Shekels). The site features English language displays, a gift shop, and is a must see for any one interested in Ancient Battles, Archeology or the end of the World.
Verdict: If its good enough for the Pope it is more than good enough for me. This my friends is a site to see.