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Megiddo was a segnificant city in the ancient world. It guarded the western branch of a narrow pass on the most important trade route of the ancient Fertile Crescent, linking Egypt with Mesopotamia and Asia Minor.  The site was inhabited from approximately 5000 to 350 BCE, or even, as The Megiddo Expedition archaeologists suggest, since around 7000 BCE.

Neolithic and Chalcolithic

Archaeological Stratum XX in Tel Megiddo began around 5000 BCE belonging to the Neolithic period. The first Yarmukian culture remains were found at this level in the 1930s excavations. The Chalcolithic period dated around 4500-3500 BCE came after as part of the Wadi Rabah culture.


Early Bronze Age

Megiddo's Early Bronze Age I (3500–2950 BCE) was originally dug at 1933–1938 by the Oriental Institute. Decades later, a temple from the end of this period was found and dated to Early Bronze Age IB (ca. 3000 BCE)  by its excavators, Adams, Finkelstein, and Ussishkin. Samples obtained by Israel Finkelstein's Expedition provided calibrated dates from the 31st and 30th century BCE, showing the temple was the most monumental Early Bronze I structure known in the Levant. To the South of the tempel, there was yet another monumental compound which was excavated by The Megiddo Expedition in 1996 and 1998, which dated to the later phase of Early Bronze IB ca. 3090-2950 BCE. Megiddo declined in the Early Bronze Age IV period (2300–2000 BCE) as the Early Bronze Age as its political systems collapsed at the last quarter of the third millennium BCE.

Early Bronze Age

Early in the second millennium BCE, at the beginning of Middle Bronze Age (ca. 1950 BCE), urbanism once again took hold throughout of the southern Levant and large urban centers served as political power in city-states. By the later Middle Bronze Age, the inland valleys were dominated by regional centers such as Megiddo which reached a size of more than 20 hectares. 

Late Bronze Age

At the Battle of Megiddo the city was subjugated by Thutmose III (r. 1479–1425 BCE), and became part of the Egyptian Empire. 

In the Amarna Period (c. 1353–1336 BCE), Megiddo was a vassalage of the Egyptian Empire. Megiddo's Stratum VIIB lasted until slightly before or in the reign of Ramesses III (c. 1184-1153 BCE).

Iron Age

The Iron Age began in Tel Megiddo around 1150 BCE, and Egypt's control of this Canaanite region ended around 1130 BCE. Stratum VIIA was destroyed around this date but a Canaanite dynasty still controlled the city after the Egyptians abandoned the region. The beginning of Philistine Bichrome pottery at Megiddo began after 1124 BCE. The Megiddo city of Stratum VI was devastated, once again, around 1073 BCE marking the end of Iron I in the Jezreel Valley and of Canaanite culture there.

Finkelstein's team proposes in a 2023 paper, based on recent radiocarbon datings, that Stratum VIA ended in early 10th century BCE (before 985 BCE), not due to the conquest of Shoshenq I but by the expansion of the highlanders into the valley, a development that soon brought about the emergence of the Israelite Northern Kingdom.

Rulers of the Israelite Northern Kingdom improved the fortress from around 900 to 750 BCE as the palaces, water systems and fortifications of the site at this period were among the most elaborate Iron Age constructions found in the Levant. There is also a putative "Solomonic gate" (Gate 2156), which belongs to Stratum VA-IVB, dated using new radiocarbon analysis by The Megiddo Expedition, led by Israel Finkelstein, during the time of the Omride dynasty, (c. 886-835 BCE), in the Late Iron Age IIA (around 900-780 BCE).

Tel Megiddo became an important city, before being destroyed, possibly by Aramaean raiders. The Aramean occupation dates to around 845-815 BCE. Jeroboam II (c. 789-748 BCE) reigned over Megiddo, as well as Hoshea (c. 732-721 BCE), the last king of the Israelite Northern Kingdom, vassal reign to Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria. The site was rebuilt as an administrative center for Tiglath-Pileser III's occupation of Samaria. Tiglath-Pileser III had conquered Megiddo in 732 BCE, turning it to the capital of the Neo-Assyrian Empire's province of Magiddu.

In 609 BCE, Megiddo was conquered by Egyptians under Necho II during the Battle of Megiddo. Its importance soon dwindled, and it was thought as finally abandoned around 586 BCE. Since that time it would have remained uninhabited, preserving ruins pre-dating 586 BCE without settlements ever disturbing them. 

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