In ancient times Megiddo was an important city-state. Excavations have unearthed 26 layers of ruins, indicating a long period of settlement. Megiddo is strategically located at the head of a pass through the Carmel Ridge overlooking the Jezreel Valley from the west. Megiddo's strategic importance was that pass which formed part of the Egyptian-Assyria trade route.
Probable inhabitation since 7,000 BC, but the first significant findings dates from the copper age 4,500 - 3,500 BC. Many rulers sacked the fortified town, to be rebuilt by other rulers, among them King Solomon also had a go. Because of its strategic position, many a battle was fought in or near the place. On Monday I mentioned the first recorded battle in the 15th century BC. That battle on the plains of Jezreel was followed up by a seven year siege of the Megiddo fortress.
The Bible lists the king of Megiddo among the Canaanite rulers defeated by Joshua in his conquest of the land (Josh. 12:21). There is no mention whether there was a battle in or near Megiddo at the time - but it would be safe to assume so, otherwise that king wouldn't have been defeated.
The Egyptian Pharaoh Shishak took Megiddo in the second half of the 10th century BC. His conquest of the city is affirmed in his inscriptions at the Temple at Karnak.
In the 9th and 8th centuries BC, the rulers of the Northern Kingdom (Israel) refitted the fortress even more elaborately than before. The palaces, water systems and fortifications of Israelite Megiddo are among the most elaborate Iron Age architectural remains unearthed in the Levant. I have been down the passage to the hidden fountain that was devised. It also served as a bolt hole. In 732 B.C.E., the Assyrian King Tiglath-pileser III took the region from the Northern Kingdom. In the following years Megiddo served as the capital of an Assyrian province.
A remarkable clash took place between pharaoh Necho and King Josiah of Judah in 609 BC. According to 2 Chronicles 35:21 Necho claimed that God sent him to do battle against the Babylonians and he (Josiah) should stand down. This was a bit difficult for Josiah to accept and he attacked Necho's forces. Josiah lost the battle and was killed.
Megiddo's importance soon dwindled, and it was finally abandoned around 586 BC. Since that time it has remained uninhabited, preserving ruins pre-dating 586 BC without settlements ever disturbing them.
The Book of Revelations (16:16) in the Bible says that Armageddon (the mound of Megiddo and the Greek name) would at the end of days be the site of the last battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil.