History of Tel Megiddo
is the only site in Israel mentioned by every great power in the Ancient
Near East and is widely regarded as the most important biblical period
site in Israel. Biblical Megiddo was the scene of several battles
that decided the fate of all Asia west of the Euphrates. Surrounded
by mighty fortifications, outfitted with sophisticated water installations,
and adorned with impressive palaces and temples, Megiddo was the queen
of cities of Canaan and Israel.
the dawn of urbanization in the 4th millennium BCE (ca. 3500) Megiddo
began to dominate the surrounding countryside. By the 2nd millennium,
Megiddo was a center of Egyptian administration in Canaan. When the
city-states of Canaan revolted against the pharaohs, it was at Megiddo
that they assembled to do battle. The Egyptian army, led by Pharaoh
Thutmose III, surprised the rebels by choosing the most dangerous
route of attack -- through the narrow ‘Aruna pass. After routing out
the Canaanite forces and capturing rich booty, Thutmose III laid siege
to the city for seven months. This decisive victory enabled him to
incorporate Canaan as a province into the empire of the New Kingdom.
14th century BCE archive of el-Amarna in Egypt, six letters sent by
Biridiya, King of Megiddo, to the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten were
discovered. The letters indicate that Megiddo was one of the mightiest
city-states in Canaan. The magnificent ivories found in the Late Bronze
Age palace at the site also attest to the city’s wealth and grandeur
and its varied cultural contacts in this era.
to the Bible, King Solomon in particular left his stamp on Megiddo’s architecture.
By the 10th century BCE, it had become the center of a royal province of
the United Monarchy. The rulers of the Northern Kingdom refitted the fortress
even more elaborately than before. The palaces, water systems and fortifications
of Israelite Megiddo are among the most elaborate Iron Age architectural
remains unearthed in the Levant.
Pharaoh Shishak later took the city. His conquest of the site is affirmed
both in his inscriptions at the Temple at Karnak and in a stele erected
at the site.
the mid-8th century BCE, the Assyrian King Tiglath-Pileser III had annexed
the region as a royal province and made Megiddo its capital. With the fall
of the Assyrian empire the great religious reformer King Josiah of Judah
led his troops to Megiddo to confront Pharaoh Necho in an attempt to stop
him from joining the crumbling Assyrian army in its last-ditch efforts against
the Babylonians (II Kings 23:29).
In the modern
era Megiddo has also played a decisive role in battles for the control over
the Jezreel Valley. In World War I, British Field Marshal Edmund Allenby,
leading an Australian cavalry division and the Tenth Indian infantry, dislodged
from the advantageous heights of the tel a group of about 100 Turkish fighters
who defended the last vestiges of the Ottoman Empire. Allenby used tactics
similar to those of Thutmose III (over 3000 years earlier), by cutting through
the 'Aruna pass and catching the Turks unaware. The historical significance
of the site prompted Allenby to include the name of the tel in his family’s
Because of Megiddo’s
great significance for both Christians and Jews, the site served as the
historic meeting place of Pope Paul VI with Israel’s president Zalman Shazar
and Prime Minister Levi Eshkol in 1964, the first visit of a pope to the
military importance and long history as an international battleground is
aptly reflected in the Apocalypse of John in the Book of Revelations (16:14-16).
Armageddon (meaning "the mount of Megiddo") is designated as the site where,
at the end of days, the demons will gather the hosts of the nations for
the ultimate battle against the forces of God.