In the Old Testament, the name Megiddo appears in a number of places, mostly in relation to war. In the New Testament, the book of Revelation names Armageddon (a corruption of the Hebrew Har Megiddo—Mount Megiddo) as the place where the last great battle will be fought when the forces of good triumph over the forces of evil.

Which shouldn’t be surprising as this UNESCO World Heritage site has always been a place of blood and swords, a crucial fortress, thanks to its strategic position on the major route leading from Egypt to Syria and Mesopotamia. Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of cities of more than 20 distinct historical periods on this tel (Hebrew for an archaeological mound or hill), dating from 4000 b.c. to after a.d. 500.

In fact, Megiddo has been a place of battle continuing right down into the 20th century. General Allenby launched his attack against the Turks from the Megiddo Pass in 1917, and in 1948 the Israeli forces used the fortress site as a base of operations against entrenched Arab armies.

As you enter the Megiddo National Park there is a museum with detailed information about the excavations, the artifacts found there, the biblical and historical references relating to its past, and a model of the site as it now exists. Many more artifacts discovered here have been removed, and may now be found in Jerusalem’s Israel and Rockefeller museums.

You can walk among the ruins, including what may be a palace from the time of King Solomon, King Ahab’s “Chariot City,” and what some archaeologists call stables with a capacity for almost 500 horses (other archaeologists claim that the structures are not stables, though exactly what they were is a matter of controversy). There is also a large grain silo from the reign of Jeroboam Ben Joash, king of Israel in the 8th century b.c., and a building some attribute to the time of King David (1006 b.c.–970 b.c.). On strata way down below the later buildings, you can see excavated ruins of temples 5,000 and 6,000 years old, constructed during the Chalcolithic period.

Most amazing of all is the water tunnel dating from the reign of King Ahab in the 9th century b.c. You enter it by walking 183 steps 36m (118 ft.) down into a large pit in the earth (the collection pool inside the city walls), from which you can walk along the tunnel extending 65m (213 ft.) to a spring located outside the city, which was camouflaged by a wall covered with earth, designed to assure a constant supply of fresh water to the city even when it was under siege. (Read “The Psalm of the Hoopoe,” in James Michener’s “The Source,” to learn how tunnelers, digging from both ends, managed to meet underground using simple engineering techniques.) Note: The water tunnel is wheelchair-accessible with advance arrangement by phone. It closes 30 minutes before the rest of the park.