The University of Chicago expedition exposed a water system in Megiddo that was intended to make it easier for the city’s residents to reach the source of water inside the city without being exposed to the enemy. The excavations have left numerous questions unanswered regarding the water system. The differences of opinion have focused mainly on the dating of the construction of the water system and Gallery 629. In order to propose solutions based on new data, the Hebrew University expedition headed by Professor Yadin continued to expose Staircase 2153, located in the area of the city gate, and also conducted limited excavations on two sides of the gallery and at the foot of the slope, in the entrance to the spring.
The criticism of the conclusions drawn by the two expeditions has so far been focused on the dating of the components of the water system. I however believe it is possible to offer a new interpretation to these components, both in determining the stratigraphic relationship of the elements to the different settlement strata of the main phases of the water system, and in understanding the purpose why Gallery 629 was established and its function.
The three components associated with supplying the city with water – the water system (Shaft 925), the “gallery” and the staircase in the vicinity of the gate – were all built in Stratum IVA, as part of an extensive plan that altered the layout of the city at that time. Shaft 925 has two main phases and not three (according to Lamon) as has been accepted until now. In the first phase water was drawn from it like a well (that was why the shaft and the horizontal tunnel 1000 and 1845 were hewn) and in the second phase the system was renovated and a staircase that directly reached the source of the water was built inside it.
I believe that “Gallery” 629 is a drainage channel that was incorporated in the ancient offset-inset wall in order to drain the surface run-off in the vicinity of the water system. Its construction was meant to protect the water system and the city wall from collapse when flooding occurred. Another channel (2093) that was built west of the city gate – the six-chambered gate 2156 – is also integrated in the city wall. I get the impression that the architects of the city in Stratum IVA wanted to drain the city’s run-off that flowed mostly in the vicinity of the gate through the channel and not via the gate itself. This is similar to the Megiddo gates in the last strata that are ascribed to the Iron Age. Diverting the water to the channel and preventing it from flowing to the passage in the sunken gate was accomplished by building an enormous foundation for Gate 2156, which raised the level of the passage by some 2.5m and thereby protected the new frontal approach, the outer gate and Staircase 2153 from flood damage.