Megiddo is the jewel in the crown of biblical archaeology. Strategically perched above the most important land route in the ancient Near East, the city dominated international traffic for over 6,000 years — from ca. 7,000 B.C.E. through to biblical times. As civilizations came and went, succeeding settlements at ancient Megiddo were built on the ruins of their predecessors, creating a multi-layered archaeological legacy that abounds in unparalleled treasures that include monumental temples, lavish palaces, mighty fortifications, and remarkably-engineered water systems.
Megiddo was the site of epic battles that decided the fate of western Asia. It was here that the Egyptians took their first steps toward empire building when Pharaoh Thutmose III, in the 15th century B.C.E., conquered Canaan; it was from here that Assyria staged its deportation of the people of the Northern Kingdom of Israel; and it was here that Josiah—the last righteous king of the lineage of David—was killed by Pharaoh Necho II, opening the way for centuries of messianic yearning.
Megiddo is the only site in Israel mentioned by every great power in the ancient Near East. In the New Testament it appears as Armageddon (a Greek corruption of the Hebrew Har [=Mount] Megiddo), location of the millennial battle between the forces of good and evil. Megiddo is an archetypal historical site whose cast of characters includes Canaanites, Egyptians, Israelites, Assyrians, and Persians in the biblical period and Ottoman Turks and Englishmen in the modern era. No wonder that it was the inspiration for James Michener’s bestseller, The Source.
Megiddo’s importance was undoubtedly due to its role as a way station and control point for international trade. Its strategic location on the Via Maris (the major international military and trade route of antiquity that linked Egypt in the south with Syria, Anatolia, and Mesopotamia in the north and east), gave it control of a bottleneck where the road emerges from the narrow ‘Aruna Pass into the fertile Jezreel Valley.