Jezreel, perched on the foothills of the Gilboa, overlooks the majestic Jezreel Valley at a point midway between the ancient cities of Megiddo and Beth Shean. Consisting of an upper city, known as Tel Jezreel, and a lower site, known as Tel Ein Jezreel (the spring of Jezreel), Jezreel was a sentry site overlooking the east-west Via Maris/Way of the Sea and also controlling the north-south Way of the Patriarchs. This fact, together with the spring on the edge of the fertile Jezreel Valley, ensured that the site was continuously occupied from the Neolithic to late Ottoman/Mandate times.
The Iron Age remains on Tel Jezreel were partially excavated by a previous expedition in the 1990s, where visible remains of a military mustering station were revealed. Jezreel is the arena of that dramatic Biblical epic of the dispute over Naboth’s vineyard, the place where King Joram of Israel and King Ahaziah of Judah rode out to their deaths, and the scene of Queen Jezebel’s dramatic death below the hooves of usurper Jehu’s horses.
In February 2012 the Jezreel Expedition commissioned an aerial LiDAR (laser) scan of Jezreel and 7 square kilometers of the surrounding area; this is the first time that this technology has been used at an archaeological site in Israel. The results were dramatic. In June 2012 a survey team conducted a landscape survey over a defined area of 3 square kilometers. Using data from the LiDAR, the team documented 25 cave tombs; 35 rock-cut trough tombs; 21 ancient quarries; 94 walls from various periods; 57 agricultural installations; and 68 of an estimated 100 plus rock-cut cisterns. The highlights include firm evidence for an extensive settlement by the spring, which was visible on the LiDAR and confirmed in the field, and a large rock-cut winery that possibly belongs to the period of Naboth!
During our first four excavation seasons we focused on six different areas and revealed the remains of a probable Iron Age building on the northern slope of Tel Jezreel, an extensive Iron Age rock-cut winery, a Middle Bronze Age tomb, a Medieval monument, evidence of Early Bronze Age settlement including a high place, and sections of the Roman and Medieval path that linked the upper and lower sites.
5.5 miles south of Afula; 31 miles southwest of Tiberius; 56 miles northeast of Tel Aviv; 87 miles north of Jerusalem
Neolithic through to Ottoman
Jennie Ebeling is Associate Professor of Archaeology at the University of Evansville, Indiana. She holds a Ph.D. in Syro-Palestinian Archaeology from the University of Arizona and has been a supervisor at the Tel Hazor Excavations and a ground stone artifact specialist at numerous other excavations. Her research interests include ancient food and drink technology, women in the ancient Near East, and religion and cult in Bronze Age Canaan and Iron Age Israel. She has edited books on household archaeology and ground stone artifacts and is the author of Women’s Lives in Biblical Times (T&T Clark, Int’l, 2010).
Norma Franklin is a Research Associate at the Zinman Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa. She has a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Archaeology from Tel Aviv University. She excavated at Jezreel in 1990 before becoming a founding member and coordinator of the Megiddo Expedition. She is an experienced field archaeologist who is happiest with complex stratigraphy! She resigned from Megiddo in 2011 in order to launch the Jezreel Expedition. Her research interests have focused on the three key cities of the Northern Kingdom of Israel: Samaria, Megiddo and Jezreel. Her specialization includes ancient building techniques, water systems, and technology—old and new.