In a once-in-a-lifetime find of biblical proportions, archaeologists have discovered a burial chamber in the ancient Canaanite city-state of Megiddo.
According to National Geographic, archaeologists stumbled upon the 3,600-year-old burial chamber, which has the possibility of offering clues into the royal dynasty that ruled the southern regions of Haifa (northern Isreal) before Egypt’s conquering of the land in the 15th century B.C.
The site itself was witness to numerous battles that would decide the fate of history, earning the name “Armageddon” as it is mentioned in the Bible’s book of Revelation (Rev. 16:16), deriving from Har-Megiddo, or “Hill of Megiddo.”
The “magnificent and untouched” find that left its discoverers stunned was part of a much larger site of Megiddo, which for five millennia (3000 B.C. to 1918) dominated a strategic pass on both popular international military and trade routes.
In what was the earliest recorded battle of the Ancient Near East, Egyptian forces at the service of Pharaoh Thutmose III had besieged Megiddo, and after several months conquered the fortified city and incorporated Canaan as a province of the pharaoh’s empire.
The importance of the historical find was not lost on Israel Finkelstein, Mario Martin and Matthew Adams, who have all been conducting excavations in Megiddo for over two decades and had first discovered a subterranean corridor close to the Bronze Age palaces within the area back in 2016.
The corridor leads to a burial chamber, which itself contained the remains of three figures — a man, a woman, and a child — who were adorned with numerous elaborately detailed gold and silver jewelry.
The man had reportedly been crowned with a gold diadem, which suggested to the archaeologists a high level of skill and artistry that went into supplying the wealthy with such jewels.
“We are speaking of an elite family burial because of the monumentality of the structure, the rich finds and because of the fact that the burial is located in close proximity to the royal palace,” Finkelstein explained.
The archaeologists added that other human remains had also been interred in the tomb sometime earlier, which would have followed the practice of the region’s ancient funerary rites.
A current DNA study of the three corpses is searching for answers as to whether the common inhabitants were of the same background as the ruling elite of the Canaanite city-state, as the results of such tests could change the perceptions scholars have long held to.
Researchers have been particularly perplexed by the origin of Megiddo’s ruling elite since their diplomatic correspondence with Egypt back in the 14th century B.C. after Thutmosis III conquered it.
Studies have revealed that the king of Megiddo during that time did not actually have a traditionally Canaanite “Semitic” name, but rather one that was Hurrian: Birydia.
Perceptions of the Canaan population were long believed to be that Hurrians were a roving mountain people, emerging somewhere between the fourth and the third millennium B.C. before they settled down and adopted cuneiform as their script.
These new excavations, however, may reveal a more advanced culture with a language distinct to them and a belief system that may have been a key player in shaping what would become the first cities of the Near East and effectively running the Canaanite city-states.
Archaeologists also suggest it may change the perception of the people of Canaan itself.
“These studies have the potential to revolutionize what we know about the population of Canaan,” Finkelstein said. “Before the rise of the world of the Bible.”
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