Erich Lessing

Grasping his prisoners by the hair with one hand and raising his other hand to smite them, Shishak appears almost superhumanly powerful on this wall relief from the Temple of Amun at Karnak, Egypt. Also carved onto a wall at Karnak are rows of cartouches representing the Palestinian and Syrian towns that Shishak claimed to have conquered. The towns include Gaza, Taanach—and Megiddo. (Shishak’s likely route through the Levant is included in “Megiddo at a Glance.”)

Some archaeologists, notably Tel Aviv University’s Israel Finkelstein, maintain that Shishak was responsible for the destruction of the Stratum VI settlement at Megiddo. Indeed, the Chicago excavators found much evidence of a swift and catastrophic destruction of Stratum VI by fire: rooms full of smashed pottery (including one in Building 2072); and the burnt remains of wooden pillar supports. But a cache of Philistine-style loomweights recovered from Building 2072 indicates a Philistine presence at the site, and ties Stratum VI to Iron Age I—75 or more years before Shishak’s campaign.