Tel Megiddo, the ancient site of the Final Battle is situated high above the Jezreel Valley in Israel. The Valley now has an airstrip within it, but the area can still easily be imagined as a battlefield as it extends from Bet Shearim in the West to bet Shean in the East. The Via Maris, named by the Romans as it linked Egypt with Mesopotamia, was the main road that both armies and trade caravans used to travel from the coast through to the Jordan. The area suffered neglect in recent times until Jewish settlers began reclaiming the land after the Second World War. Nazareth lies between the Valley and Sea of Galilee not far from Mount Tabor in the East. Saul fell at Mount Gilboa in battle with the Philistines. David cursed the area and Gideon fought the Midianites. Gan Hashlosha is now a National Park filled with rock pools, waterfalls, lush greenery and flowers.
Battles for Supremacy
Megiddo was the site of many battles deciding the area’s fate and has been identified as the Final Battle place between Good and Evil as mentioned in the Book of Revelation 16:16. In 1478 BC Pharoah Thutmose III recorded a great victory at Megiddo over the Canaanites and announced it to the world on the walls of his Temple in Upper Egypt. Pharoah Shishak occupied the area in 915 BC after removing the treasures from the Temple in Jerusalem, again inscribing his victory on the Temple at Karnak. He was followed by the Assyrian King Tiglath-Pileser III who staged the deportation of the people from Northern Israel in 733 BC. King Josiah of Judah, the last King of David’s lineage, was killed here by Pharoah Necho II in 609 BC. It is the only site in Israel that is mentioned by every ancient power in the Near East, including the El-Amarna letters sent by King Biridiya to Akhenaten. More recently, Napoleon fought here in 1799 and General Edmund Allenby in the First World War against Turkish Ottoman fighters.
Named in the Bible as Derekh Ha Yam or Tel Megiddo, the city overlooks the Israeli plain of Jezreel and is strategically placed as both a trade route and guardian outpost. Twenty cities have been built here, one on top of the other, since 4,000 BC. However, the site was inhabited from 7,000 BC until 586 BC after the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem by the Babylonians. The fact that the site has not been lived in since biblical times makes it of extreme importance as the ruins have been preserved without newer settlements to disturb the ancient ones. The city became dominant in the 4th millennium BC and continued through the time of Solomon who reconstructed the city, along with Hazor and Gezer. The Canaanites lived there until around 2,000 BC, followed by the Hyksos and Egyptians. On the site itself the remains of the sophisticated water shaft built by Ahab can still be seen descending 186 steps down into the rock. There is a Canaanite Temple and stables that housed 2,000 horses as well as palaces, walls, gates, sentry towers, storehouses and private living accommodations.
During the first excavations some of the original site was removed as they sifted through the layers and so the oldest remains that can be seen are from 4,000 BC. A German team, led by Gottlieb Schumacher in 1903, decided to take out a huge tract of land from the eastern side of the city exposing a multitude of temples. In 1925, Clarence Fisher, P. Guy and Gordon Loud discovered at least eight levels of habitation. Yigael Yadin (Hebrew University) has conducted four digs since 1960, uncovering the enormous Palace possibly belonging to Solomon himself. The Tel Aviv University teams led by Israel Finkelstein and David Ussishkin dig bi-annually. In 2005 an ancient church was discovered close to the prison area. There is a large mosaic with Greek inscriptions “the God Jesus Christ” which was constructed after donations were given by a Roman officer “Gaianus”. The city was the headquarters of the Sixth and Second Roman Legions. The church has been dated to around 230 AD which makes it one of only a few proved to exist before the Edict of Milan in 313 AD when the Roman Empire officially recognized Christianity.