MEGIDDO (Heb. מְגִדּוֹ), ancient Canaanite and Israelite city, identified with Tell al-Mutasallim on the southern side of the Jezreel Valley, approximately 22 mi. (35 km.) S.E. of Haifa. The site was excavated in 1903–05 by G. Schumacher and in 1925–39 by the Oriental Institute in Chicago, under the direction of C.S. Fisher, P.L.O. Guy, and G. Loud. Small additional soundings were made by Y. Yadin in 1960 and later years. A Tel Aviv University-led expedition under the direction of I. Finkelstein and D. Ussishkin renewed the excavations in 1992. The excavations revealed the existence of over 20 levels, beginning with the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods. In the Early Bronze Age the first temples were built, as well as a round high-place and a wall, 26 ft. (8 m.) thick. The temples consist of a monumental temple with long corridors, dating to the Early Bronze I (c. 3000 B.C.E.), and three later temples, of the megaron type, dating to the Early Bronze Age III, in the second half of the third millennium B.C.E. The Middle Bronze Age city was surrounded by a strong system of earthworks – embankment and glacis. The construction of the great "Migdal" temple in the cultic compound may also date to this period. A statue of an Egyptian official called Thuthotep, which was found in the excavations, was interpreted by some scholars as indicating that an Egyptian governor probably resided there at that time. The transition from the Middle to the Late Bronze was seemingly peaceful. In approximately 1469 B.C.E. Pharaoh Thutmosis III appeared before the walls of Megiddo, after passing through the Aruna Valley giving the city access to the coast. He overcame a coalition of Canaanite city-states and captured the city after a siege of seven months. From then until Stratum VII the city remained under Egyptian sovereignty. In the el-Amarna period, the king of Megiddo, Biridiya, was hard pressed by the Apiru and Labayu of Shechem (EA, 242–5). The Late Bronze Age city witnessed the erection of an elaborate palace as well as continuity in the "Migdal" temple. A hoard of ivories found in the palace reveals Egyptian, Hittite, Aegean, and local cultural influences. A cuneiform tablet which dates to this period contains a fragment of the Gilgamesh epic. Late Bronze Megiddo also yielded inscriptions from the days of Ramses III and Ramses VI, meaning that it was not destroyed until the second half of the 12th century B.C.E. Dramatic evidence for the destruction of this city was found in the palace and the nearby gate. The next city, Stratum VI (late 11th and early 10th centuries B.C.E.), had many features similar to that of the previous one. Its material culture continued late second-millennium traditions. This city too was destroyed in a fierce conflagration.
According to biblical tradition, Megiddo did not fall to Joshua, although its king was defeated (Josh. 12:21; cf. Josh. 17:11–13; Judg. 1:27–28). Solomon built the city (I Kings 9:15) and included it in his fifth district (I Kings 4:12). According to archaeologist Yigael Yadin, the Iron Age gate with three guardrooms is identical in plan with the gates at Hazor and Gezer and therefore should be related to the biblical testimony on the building activities of King Solomon. Two palaces built of well-hewn ashlar masonry and probably adorned with proto-Aeolic capitals were also associated by Yadin with King Solomon. Other scholars date the Megiddo gate to the ninth or eighth century and the two palaces to the ninth century. According to this view they should be associated with the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The next city at Megiddo was largely occupied by two units of five rectangular stables and one unit of two stables, with feeding troughs between pillars and a supposed capacity of 450 horses. Yadin attributes these stables to the time of King Ahab, who rallied 2,000 chariots against Shalmaneser III at the Battle of Karkar. Other scholars date them to the days of Jeroboam II, in the first half of the eighth century. A rock-cut water installation, probably built in the days of this city, consists of a shaft 81 ft. (25 m.) deep, with stairs leading to a horizontal tunnel 224 ft. (70 m.) long and to a spring in the slope of the hill, which was thus connected with the city inside the walls. The Israelite city perished in 732 B.C.E. with the conquest of Tiglath Pileser III. The Assyrian king made Megiddo the capital of a province, which included Galilee and the Jezreel Valley. Stratum III features the remains of the Assyrian city. It was rebuilt on a uniform plan, with two large public buildings in the Assyrian style. Stratum II probably dates to the second half of the seventh century B.C.E. King Josiah of Judah was killed by Pharaoh Necho at Megiddo. To this event can be attributed the association of war with the Megiddo Valley in Zechariah 12:11 and with *Armageddon in Revelation 16:16. The last settlement at Megiddo was a small city of the Persian period. Field Marshal *Allenby defeated the Turks at Megiddo in 1918. On his visit to Israel in 1964 Pope Paul VI was received by President Shazar at Tell Megiddo. In 2005 Megiddo was registered as a World Heritage Site.
P.L.O. Guy and M. Engberg, Megiddo Tombs (1938); H. May, Material Remains of the Megiddo Cult (1935); R.S. Lamon, The Megiddo Water System (1935); R.S. Lamon and M. Shipton, Megiddo I (1939); G. Loud, Megiddo II (1948); Y. Yadin, "Megiddo of the Kings of Israel," in: BA (1970). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: I. Finkelstein, D. Ussishkin, and B. Halpern, Megiddo III (2000); idem, Megiddo IV (2006).
[Michael Avi-Yonah /
Israel Finkelstein and
David Ussishkin (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.