Tel (mound) Megiddo, known as Tel-el-Mutesellim (Hill of the Ruler) has been identified as one of the most important cities of biblical times.
Located on a hill overlooking the fertile Jezreel Valley, Megiddo was of great strategic importance as it commanded the eastern approaches of Nahal Iron (nahal, a dry river bed), part of the international highway which led from Egypt along the coastal plain to the Jezreel Valley and then to Damascus and Mesopotamia (the highway became known later as Via Maris, Way of the Sea). Numerous battles fought for control of the city are recorded in ancient sources; in the New Testament), Armageddon (believed by some to be a corruption of Har Megiddo – the hill of Megiddo) is named as the site of the “Battle of the End of Days”.
One of the largest city mounds in Israel (covering an area of about 15 acres) and rich in archeological finds, Tel Megiddo is an important site for the study of the material culture. A total of 20 cities were built at Megiddo one above the other, over the course of 5,000 years of continuous occupation. From the time of the first settlement on the end of the 6th millennium BCE until its abandonment in the 5th century BCE.
Several expeditions have excavated at Megiddo since the beginning of the 20th century. The most important excavations were conducted by the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago between the years 1925 and 1939. All four of the uppermost cities of the Tel dating to the first half of the 1st millennium BCE were excavated by this expedition. Several sections excavated to bedrock exposed the remains of the earliest city.
The finds corroborate the written evidence concerning the importance of Megiddo, first as a royal Canaanite city, then as an Egyptian stronghold and administrative center later as a “chariot city” of the kings of Israel and finally as the controlling city of Assyrian and Persian provinces.
Excavations at Megiddo were renewed in 1994, with the aim of clarifying the tel’s stratigraphy and chronology and of obtaining further information about architectural and cultural remains at the site. Megiddo was apparently conquered and destroyed in 732 BCE during the campaign of Tiglath Pilesser III – king of Assyria – against the Kingdom of Israel.