In the early third millenium B.C.E., Megiddo was already a city fortified by enormous walls; a thousand years later Megiddo was one of the centers of the Egyptian rule in Canaan. Megiddo was strategically invaluable: It overlooked the Eiron River in the heart of the ancient Via Maris, which led from Egypt and Damascus.
Egyptian monarch Thutmosis III traveled to Canaan in 1486 B.C.E. as a means of entrenching Egyptian rule in the area; Thutmosis III captured Megiddo and the city was put under Egyptian sovereignty.
Because Canaanite Megiddo was so powerful, the Tribes of Israel were unable to capture the city during the settlement period. The scholarly consensus is Megiddo fell into Jewish hands only at the time of King David. During King Solomon`s reign, the city grew significantly.
The city was subject to the same vicissitudes of fate as was Eretz Israel in general. In 924 Pharaoh Shishak captured Megiddo, and the city was forced to rebuild its fortifications. Later, King Ahab turned the city into an important chariot city. In 732 B.C.E., Tiglath Pileser III, King of Assyria, captured Megiddo. In Megiddo, Josiah of Judah led his troops to war against Pharaoh Necoh, and himself fell in this battle. This was the beginning of the end for Megiddo, which was abandoned after the Persian period.
Megiddo is identified with Armageddon, mentioned in the New Testament as the battleground of the end of days (Revelation 16:14-21).
The Tel Megiddo National Park offers a great deal to the visitor. A model of the complex archeological structure of the tell (mound composed of the remains of successive settlements) is on display at the museum. A film about Tel Megiddo is also screened at the museum. Visitors will want to admire the Canaanite gate from the late Bronze age (1550-1200 B.C.E.), the remains of the castle, and the Bronze-age Solomonic gate. The northern observation point has a majestic view of the Jezre`el Valley, the Nazareth mountains, and Mount Gilboa; the southern observation point looks out on the pilgrim prayer booth, the stable complex, and the remarkable waterworks.
Historians believe that the waterworks were begun during King Solomon`s time. Initially a troth between two parallel walls led to the spring which flowed under the wall in the western part of the tell. Later - apparently during King Ahab`s reign - a far more complex water system was created, designed to disguise the spring and to enable the residents to draw water without their having to exit the city walls.
The waterworks include a 25-meter-deep shaft, which reached bedrock. A 70-meter long, three-meter-high tunnel was excavated at the bottom of the shaft, and the inhabitants of Tel Megiddo could draw water using a ropes and buckets without actually entering the tunnel. A wall built near the spring kept it from view. The Megiddo waterworks are evidence of impressive engineering skill and equally creditable industriousness.
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