One day in 1989 rumor reached me that monumental Israelite architecture had accidentally been uncovered at Tel Jezreel in the Jezreel Valley in northern Israel. I was then, as now, a professional archaeologist who studies the Biblical period. I have always been inspired by the Bible and the historical events described in it, as well as the fascinating personalities involved in them. Although my archaeological work has been strictly based on the data in the field, I have never forgotten the literary background that the Bible provides. So it is not surprising thatwhen I heard this rumor I immediately decided to consider the possibility of digging at Tel Jezreel.
The site has always been associated in my mind with the famous Queen Jezebel, the consort of King Ahab who ruled in the first part of the ninth century B.C.E. Jezebel was a Phoenician, the daughter of the king of Sidon on the Phoenician coast north of Israel. Jezebel sought to introduce the Phoenician-Canaanite cult into the kingdom of Israel.
King Ahab and Queen Jezebel reigned in Samaria, the new capital of the northern kingdom of Israel; it had been established as Israel’s capital by Ahab’s father, Omri, the founder of the dynasty.