Tel Megiddo

By the Editors of the Madain Project

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The Tel Megiddo (מגידו‎, مجیدو‎), literally meaning the "tell of the Governor" is the site of the ancient city of Megiddo, the remains of which form a tell (archaeological mound), situated in northern Israel/Palestine. The ancient Megiddo holds significance in history, geography, and theology, notably recognized by its Greek designation, Armageddon. In the Bronze Age, Megiddo played a crucial role as a significant Canaanite city-state, while in the Iron Age, it attained status as a royal city within the Kingdom of Israel.


Megiddo is known for its historical, geographical, and theological importance, especially under its Greek name Armageddon.

Tel Megiddo is considered as the "cradle of biblical archaeology" and the "laboratory of modern archaeological research methods" because of its continued occupation from the Neolithic period through the Persian period. The scope of the excavations of the almost thirty settlements built on top of the previous one provide a unique opportunity to study the continuity of the occupation.

During the Bronze Age, Megiddo was an important Canaanite city-state and during the Iron Age, a royal city in the Kingdom of Israel. Megiddo drew much of its importance from its strategic location at the northern end of the Wadi Ara defile, which acts as a pass through the Carmel Ridge, and from its position overlooking the rich Jezreel Valley from the west. Excavations have unearthed 26 layers of ruins since the Chalcolithic phase, indicating a long period of settlement.

Megiddo became an Israelite city sometime between the tenth and ninth centuries BCE and it functioned as an administrative center for the fertile Jezreel Valley. At some time during antiquity, a massive wall and a monumental city gate were built. Some scholars have opioned that these structures date to the reign of King Solomon (circa mid-tenth century BCE). According to some academics have dated the gate and its immediate structed to a later date, during the reign of king Ahab (circa ninth century BCE) or the period of Jeroboam II (circa eighth century BCE).

Notable Structures

circa 2700 BCE

Canaanite High-place
This solid circular stone structure has been interpreted as an altar or a high place from the Canaanite period and may have been remained in use until 1900 BCE. This structure was identified and dated with some chicken and goat bones found nearby. Some indication of human sacrifice was also found at the ancient site. Constructed out of fieldstones, 8.5 meters in diameter and 1.5 meters high. Seven steps led to its top, upon which sacrifices were offered.

circa 1550–1200 BCE

Canaanite Gate
The Canaanite gate at Megiddo dates to the Late Bronze Age (circa 1550–1200 BCE) period. This was built prior to the Israelite conquest of the land. It is a four-chambered gate, oriented north-south, providing access from the north.

circa 1100 BCE BCE

Iron Age Water Reservoir
The Iron Age water reservoir at Tel Megiddo was hailed as a very significant archaeological finding, showcasing the technological advancements in water management during that era. This reservoir served a crucial role in supplying water to the inhabitants of Megiddo, contributing to the city's resilience, prosperity and survival over the centuries.

circa 1000 BCE

Israelite Gate
The Israelite gate dates back to the Iron Age. Dated to the tenth century BCE, and consisted of six chambers and two flanking towers. During the Assyrian period (circa 732-630 BCE), the inner gate was replaced by a two-chambered gatehouse, whose remains can be seen on top of the older gate structure.

Similar gates have been uncovered at Megiddo, Hazor, Gezer and additionally Lachish as well. Biblical account mentiones a summary of King Solomon's construction activity in the ancient cities of Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer. These gate structures were attached to a double (casemate) wall that enclosed nearly half of the western upper city.

circa 1000 BCE

Water Storage System
The problem of supplying water to large cities, a serious issue, even in times of peace, could become acute in times of siege. Megiddo's main water source was located at the foot of the mound, beyond the city's fortifications. In order to ensure access to the spring from within the ancient city, a hidden gallery was built on the slope of the mound in the tenth or ninth century BCE. This gallery was later blocked and replaced by an elaborate water system, which remained in use until the Assyrian conquest of the city in the seventh century BCE.

circa 1000 BCE

Southern Stables
The Megiddo Stables (illustration) were uncovered in Stratum IV of Tel Megiddo, revealing an extensive military and commercial complex constructed during the reign of Jeroboam II. Contrary to the initial belief in their connection to Solomon, they are now interpreted as a military and trade enterprise rather than a royal stable. The southern stables were arranged in a group of five parallel roofed structures that opened on to a paved courtyard. The entire complex could hold up to 150 horses at a time. Similar to the northern stable complex each unit of the southern stables also consists of a rectangular building divided in to three sections by two rows of alternating pillars and troughs.

It is likely that the "northern kingdom" established a major horse trading center, which included breeding and training as well, at Megiddo in at the start of the ninth century BCE. This specific economic activity may have been, apparently, one of the reasons for the prosperity of ancient Megiddo. Assyrian records, mention the Semitic excellence in horse breeding, training and other related skills during the ninth and eighth centuries BCE.

circa 900 BCE

Northern Palace
The monumental edifice of the so called "northern palace" was apparently laid out as a bit hilani (north syrian palace). The architecture of this royal palace complex included a monumental porticoed entrance and a large central ceremonial hall.

Scholars date the palace complex either to the period of King Solomon (circa mid tenth century BCE) or to the reign of king Ahab (circa ninth century BCE). Similar palace structures have been discovered in Jerusalem and Tell Halaf (in northern Syria) as well. The book of Kings mentions construction of a possible bit hilani in ancient Jerusalem during the period of king Solomon (see N2).

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See Also


Recommended Readings

Megiddo The History of the Famous Archaeological Site and Prophesized Battle of Armageddon

Charles River Editors

There are not many corners in the world that have seen as many people, civilizations, and armies as Tel Megiddo. Located in the western Jezreel Valley, it once laid upon the Via Maris, an ancient international trade route that connected ancient Egypt to the kingdoms and empires of Palestine, Syria, Anatolia, and Mesopotamia.
See on Amazon

The Battles of Armageddon Megiddo and the Jezreel Valley from the Bronze Age to the Nuclear Age

Eric H. Cline

Apocalypse. Judgment Day. The End Time. Armageddon. Students of the Bible know it as the place where the cataclysmic battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil will unfold. Many believe that this battle will take place in the very near future. But few know that Armageddon is a real place--one that has seen more fighting and bloodshed than any other spot on earth.
See on Amazon

The House of War The Struggle between Christendom and Islam

Simon Mayall

From the taking of Jerusalem in the 7th century AD 638 by Caliph Umar, to the battle of Megiddo and collapse of the Ottoman Empire following the end of World War I, Christian popes, emperors and kings, and Muslim caliphs and sultans were locked in a 1300-year battle for political, military, ideological, economic and religious supremacy.
See on Amazon

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