Megiddo is best known by its Greek name Armageddon. It lies some 30 km south-east of Haifa in northern Israel near Kibbutz Megiddo and is known for its historical, geographical, and theological importance. In ancient times Megiddo was an important city-state. Excavations have unearthed 26 layers of ruins, indicating a long period of settlement. Megiddo is strategically located at the head of a pass through the Carmel Ridge overlooking the Jezreel Valley from the west. The site is now protected as Megiddo National Park and is a World Heritage Site.
In ancient times Megiddo was most important as it guarded the western side of the narrow pass and trade route connecting Egypt and Assyria. Megiddo was the site of several historical battles because of its strategic location. The site dates from approximately 7000 BC to 586 BCE. Megiddo’s Early Bronze Age I (3500–3100 BCE) temple is described by excavators as ‘the most monumental single edifice so far uncovered in the EB I Levant and ranks among the largest structures of its time in the Near East.’ The first wall was constructed in the Early Bronze Age II or III period. However, the town experienced a decline in the Early Bronze-Age IV period, 2300–2000 BCE. It was partially revived around 2000 BCE. Megiddo was at its largest size in the Middle Bronze-Age, at 10–12 hectares.
The city was conquered by Thutmose III but continued to prosper. A large palace was constructed in the Late Bronze Age. The city was destroyed around 1150 BCE, and the area was resettled by what some scholars have identified as early Israelites, before being replaced with a Philistine town. When the Israelites captured it, though, it became an important city, before being destroyed, possibly by Aramaean raiders, and rebuilt, this time as an administrative centre for Tiglath-Pileser III’s occupation of Samaria. However, its importance soon dwindled, and it was finally abandoned around 586 BCE. Since that time it has remained uninhabited, preserving ruins pre-dating 586 BCE without settlements ever disturbing them. The town of Lajjun was built near to the site, but without inhabiting or disturbing its remains.
The town is recorded in Ancient Egyptian writings because one of Egypt’s mighty kings, Thutmose III, waged war upon the city in 1478 BCE. The battle is described in detail in the hieroglyphics found on the walls of his temple in Upper Egypt.
Megiddo is referred to in the Bible as ‘Derekh HaYam’ or ‘Way of the Sea,’ and became strategically important to the Romans and was known as the Via Maris.
The Battle of Megiddo (15th century BCE) was fought between the armies of the Egyptian pharaoh Thutmose III and a large Canaanite coalition led by the rulers of Megiddo and Kadesh.
The Battle of Megiddo (609 BCE) was fought between Egyptian pharaoh Necho II and the Kingdom of Judah, in which King Josiah fell.
Battle of Megiddo (1918) was fought during World War I between Allied troops, led by General Edmund Allenby, and the defending Ottoman army.
Kibbutz Megiddo is nearby, less than 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) to the south. Today, Megiddo Junction is on the main road connecting the center of Israel with lower Galilee and the north. It lies at the northern entrance to Wadi Ara, an important mountain pass connecting the Jezreel Valley with Israel’s coastal plain.
Megiddo is also known as Greek: Μεγιδδώ/Μαγεδδών, Megiddó/Mageddón in the Septuagint; Latin: Mageddo; Assyrian: Magiddu, Magaddu; Magidda and Makida in the Amarna tablets; Egyptian: Maketi, Makitu, and Makedo. The Book of Revelation mentions an apocalyptic battle at Armageddon, a name derived from the Hebrew “Har Megiddo” meaning “Mount of Megiddo”. ‘Armageddon’ has become a byword for the end of the world.
מגידו, مجیدو, Tell al-Mutesellim