Megiddo: Background information when reading To Be a Man

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To Be a Man

by Nicole Krauss

To Be a Man by Nicole Krauss X
To Be a Man by Nicole Krauss
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  • First Published:
    Nov 2020, 240 pages

    Nov 2021, 240 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Karen Lewis
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Aerial view of Tel Megiddo In To Be a Man by Nicole Krauss, a character in the story "End Days" is an archaeologist working at Tel Megiddo, the site of the ancient Palestinian city of Megiddo, which is situated near present-day Haifa, Israel. "Tel" refers to the "mound" on the site in which excavations have uncovered 26 layers of remains of ancient civilizations that date back more than 4,000 years.

Megiddo was originally a strategic settlement on a trade route that linked Mesopotamia with Egypt. Historians believe the site was inhabited as early as 7,000 BCE. Artifacts from the Bronze Age and Iron Age, along with funerary items including gold, ivory, ceramics and bones reveal a complex history of habitation and eventual demise. Noted structural remains include a Roman temple, a Christian mosaic, walls, gateways and watchtowers. In 2016, a 3,600-year-old burial chamber was discovered intact. Ongoing excavation work and examination of artifacts, including DNA analysis, continue in a search for clues about the ancient past.

Megiddo is mentioned many times in Jewish scripture and thus also in the Christian Old Testament. It is also believed to be referred to in the Book of Revelation in the New Testament as "Armageddon," which may be derived from "Har Megiddo," meaning "Hill of Megiddo." Thought to be linked with Megiddo at least figuratively, if not literally, Armageddon is foretold as a place of judgment where war will destroy everything. Excavations have revealed remnants of many battles, starting with one between the Canaanites and Syrians against Pharaoh Thutmose III of Egypt in the late 15th century BCE. Evidence indicates subsequent centuries of warfare involving Philistines, Egyptians and Israelites. In 1918, a World War I battle took place near Megiddo during the British invasion of Ottoman territory.

Megiddo was ruled by many kings. King Solomon (son of King David), is believed to have built palaces and military fortifications there during his reign from about 970-931 BCE, and some of the city's most elaborate architectural remains are attributed to Solomon's era. King Ahab, thought to have reigned from 874-852 BCE, is known for establishing Megiddo as a "chariot city," and researchers believe a large number of horses and battle chariots were kept there. Archaeologists are currently searching for evidence related to King Josiah of Judah being killed at Megiddo around 609 BCE, as chronicled in biblical verse.

In 2005, Megiddo was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and cited for its architecture spanning millennia, evidence of elaborate underground water systems and Iron Age artifacts.

Aerial view of Tel Megiddo by Itamar Grinberg for the Israeli Ministry of Tourism (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Filed under Places, Cultures & Identities

Article by Karen Lewis

This "beyond the book article" relates to To Be a Man. It originally ran in January 2021 and has been updated for the November 2021 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

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