Megiddo (Hebrew: מגידו) is a hill in Israel near the modern settlement of
Megiddo, known for theological, historical and geographical reasons. In ancient
times Megiddo was an important city state. It is also known alternatively
as Tel Megiddo (Hebrew) and Tell al-Mutesellim (Arabic).
Megiddo is a tel (hill) made of 26 layers of
the ruins of ancient cities in a strategic location at the head of a pass
through the Carmel Ridge, which overlooks the Valley of Jezreel from the
Megiddo was a site of great importance in the ancient
world, as it guarded the western branch of a narrow pass and an ancient trade
route which connected the lands of Egypt and Assyria. Because of its strategic
location at the crossroads of several major routes, Megiddo and its environs
have witnessed several major battles throughout history. The site was inhabited
from 7000 BC to 500 BC.
Megiddo is mentioned in Ancient Egyptian writings because
one of Egypt's mighty kings, Thutmose III, waged war upon the city in 1478
BC. The battle is described in detail in the hieroglyphics found on the walls
of his temple in Upper Egypt. Named in the Bible Derekh HaYam (Hebrew: דרך
הים), or "Way of the Sea," it became an important military artery of the
Roman Empire and was known as the Via Maris.
Modern Megiddo is nearby. The neighboring Mount Megiddo
(Hebrew: הר מגידו, Har-Megiddo), gave its name to the Armageddon of the Christian
Today, Megiddo is an important junction on the main road
connecting the center of Israel with lower Galilee and the northern region.
Megiddo has been the site of numerous battles throughout
history, with the site changing hands many times. Three of the more famous
- Battle of Megiddo (15th century BC): fought between
the armies of the Egyptian pharaoh Thutmose III and
a large Canaanite coalition led by the rulers of Megiddo and Kadesh;
- Battle of Megiddo (609 BC): fought between Egypt
and the Kingdom of Judah, in which King Josiah was supposed to have fallen.
- Battle of Megiddo (1918): fought during
World War I between Allied troops, led by General
Edmund Allenby, and the defending Ottoman army.
The second-last military showdown in world history, taking
place at or near Megiddo, is prophesied in the New Testament Book of Revelation:
Armageddon, an encounter between the forces of good and evil that has become
a byword for the end of the world. However, the final battle described by
the Book of Revelation is actually Gog and Magog.
Megiddo has been excavated three times. The first excavations
were carried out between 1903 and 1905 by Gottlieb Schumacher for the German
Society for Oriental Research. In 1925, digging was resumed by Oriental Institute
of the University of Chicago, financed by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. until
the outbreak of the Second World War. During these excavation it was discovered
that there were twenty levels of habitation, and many of the uncovered remains
are preserved at the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem and the Oriental Institute
of the University of Chicago.
Yigael Yadin conducted a few small excavations in the
1960s. Megiddo has most recently (since 1994) been the subject of biannual
excavation campaigns conducted by The Megiddo Expedition of
Tel Aviv University, directed by Israel Finkelstein and David Ussishkin,
together with a consortium of international universities.
Ancient church discovered under prison
In 2005, Israeli archeologist Yotam Tepper of Tel-Aviv
University discovered the remains of a church, believed to be from the third
century, a time when Christians were still persecuted by the Roman Empire.
Among the finds is an approx. 54 square metre large mosaic with a Greek inscription
stating that the church is consecrated to "the god Jesus Christ." The mosaic
is very well preserved and features geometrical figures and images of fish,
an early Christian symbol. It is speculated that this may be the oldest remains
of a church in the Holy Land. The remains were found within the grounds
of a military prison, and Israeli authorities are currently speculating about
moving the prison.
An inscription in the Megiddo church calls for a Roman
officer, "Gaianus," who donated "his own money" to have a mosaic made. Some
have questioned whether a Roman officer would risk his career or even his
life to build a church. On the other hand, persecution of Christians was
sporadic in the Roman Empire during the early third century.
The Megiddo Stables
At Megiddo two stable complexes were excavated from Stratum
IVA, one in the north and one in the south. The southern complex contained
five structures built around a lime paved courtyard. The buildings themselves
were divided into three sections. Two long stone paved aisles were built
adjacent to a main corridor paved with lime. The buildings were about twenty-one
meters long by eleven meters wide. Separating the main corridor from outside
aisles was a series of stone pillars. Holes were bored into many of these
pillars so that horses could be tied to them. Also, the remains of stone
mangers were found in the buildings. These mangers were placed between the
pillars to feed the horses. It is suggested that each side could hold fifteen
horses, giving each building an overall capacity of thirty horses. The buildings
on the northern side of the city were similar in their construction. However,
there was no central courtyard. The capacity of the northern buildings was
about three hundred horses altogether. Both complexes could hold from 450-480
The buildings were found during excavations between 1927
and 1934 at Megiddo. Head excavator, P.L.O. Guy, originally interpreted the
buildings as stables. Since then his conclusions have been challenged by
scholars such as James Pritchard, Ze’ev Herzog, and Yohanan Aharoni. They
suggest that the buildings should be interpreted as either storehouses, marketplaces
or barracks. Other Tripartite Buildings have been found at other sites such
as Hazor and Beer-Sheba. The evidence at these other sites is not absolutely
References in popular culture
Megiddo was also the name of a 1985 board game, loosely
based on the historic battleground. The game was published by a small company
called Global Games from Spokane, Washington. Originally sold in a tube (like
the more popular game "Pente"), Megiddo revolved around two to six players
who battled for ultimate control of the circular board (or "hill"). Placing
jewel-like beads on the six radii of the playing board, players struggled
to overcome their opponents by placing six beads of the same color in a row,
circle, or spiral around the board. Global Games has since gone out of business.
Copies of the game, particularly in its original tube, are rare. A boxed
version (said by some to be inferior in quality) was also released.
Megiddo is also featured in the Game Boy Advance game,
Golden Sun: The Lost Age as a special move usuable when the Sol Blade
In the Square-Enix game Final Fantasy VIII,
the most powerful monster in the game (Omega WEAPON) casts a spell called
Megiddo Flame, which deals 9,998 points of damage
to all three party members regardless of defense and resistances. Unless
the characters are at max health (9,999 Hit Points), they will die.
In the Square-Enix game Final Fantasy X,
there are creatures named Chimaera who cast a spell also called Megiddo
Flame, which is a ball of flame dealing damage to one character.
The evangelical Christian motion picture Megiddo: The
Omega Code 2 is an apocalyptic thriller released theatrically in 2001.
In the film The Omen, daggers capable of killing
the Anti-Christ were buried at Megiddo. In the film, Robert Thorn acquired
the daggers by way of an old sage and archaeologist.
Known for its references to various religions and mythologies,
the RPG game series Megami Tensei also features a spell called Megido, dealing
damage regardless of any elemental resistances.
There is also a song from japanese band Pierrot (band)
called Megido no oka (The Hill of Megido - メギドの丘).
The Swiss avantgarde metal band 'Celtic Frost' recorded
a song called 'Dawn of Megiddo' on their album "To Mega Therion".