The Biblical Tels

The Hebrew term "Tel" refers to the type of ancient urban settlement sites that were widespread in the Middle East. A tel was surrounded by earthen embankments and walls, giving it a distinctive mountain-like appearance.

In 1972, UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) ratified a convention to protect world heritage sites (WHS). The government of Israel ratified the convention in 2000. The Biblical tels of Megiddo, Hazor and Beer Sheba - three out of some 200 archeological tel sites in the Land of Israel - were added to the WHS list in 2005.

The Megiddo archeological site was inhabited from approximately 7000 BC to 586 BC - the same time as the destruction of the First Israelite Temple in Jerusalem by the Babylonians, and subsequent fall of Israelite rule and exile. It was an important fortified city astride the main route from Egypt to Syria and Mesopotamia. During King Solomon's reign it was a regional capital. During King Ahab's time it served as a transportation hub with stables for hundreds of horses. The Book of Revelation of John mentions apocalyptic military amassment at Armageddon, a name derived from Har Megiddo (Hebrew) meaning Mount of Megiddo.

Hazor, a Canaanite city, became prominent in the late 18th century BC and was the largest and most important city in the region for hundreds of years until it was destroyed in the 12th century BC. It regained its status as an important city during the period of the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Israel. It was destroyed by the Assyrians in 732 BC.

Beer Sheba marked the southern boundary of the United Kingdom of Israel and Judah when it was first built as a fortified city. It was rebuilt in the 8th century BC, and reconstructed again at the end of that century, apparently during the reign of the Judean King Hizkiyahu. It was destroyed, apparently by the Assyrians, in 701 BC.

The stamp was issued in 2008. Designer: Ronen Goldberg.