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Unearthed Secrets from Armageddon, the Site of the Ultimate Battle in Revelation

a cave leading to a tomb in the site of Armageddon, Megiddo.

Last month, archaeologists in northern Israel unearthed a ground-breaking find associated with Armageddon, the site of the ultimate battle in the Bible book of Revelation. A hidden tomb sheds important light on the people who ruled Megiddo before the Egyptians defeated the city, and helps explain the significance of the city before the Jewish people settled into the area.

Located in the corridor between the ancient Near Eastern powers of Egypt, Hatti (in modern Turkey), Assyria, and Babylon, Megiddo had a pivotal central location that enabled it to become a rich trade hub. The surrounding area remained a strategic location for military and trade routes from 3000 B.C. to 1918 A.D. The site has witnessed numerous decisive battles that have altered the course of history.

"These studies have the potential to revolutionize what we know about the people of Canaan before the rise of the world of the Bible," Israel Finkelstein, an archaeologist with Tel Aviv University who helped lead the international exploration, told National Geographic.

Archaeologists have been digging at Megiddo (known today as Tell el-Mutesellim) for 115 years, but this team discovered a new tomb that sheds light on this city at the pivot of history. Finkelstein's team, which has been excavating at the site since 1994, includes his Tel Aviv University colleague Mario Martin and Matthew Adams of the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeology.

The newly uncovered tomb predates the earliest recorded battle in the history of the ancient Near East, when the Egyptian pharaoh Thutmose III besieged the city in the first half of the 15th century B.C. After a seven-month-long siege, the city surrendered and yielded to the pharaoh, who incorporated Canaan into his empire.

The tomb dated to the Middle Bronze Age, around 1700-1600 B.C., when the power of Canaanite Megiddo was at its peak. Archaeologists discovered the tomb after seeing cracks in the surface of an excavation area near the Bronze Age palaces discovered in the 1930s. Dirt appeared to be falling away into an undiscovered cavern below, Adams told National Geographic. In 2016, they discovered a subterranean corridor leading to a burial chamber.

Inside the tomb, the team discovered undisturbed remains of three people: a child between 8 and 10 years old, a woman in her mid-30s, and a man between the ages of 40 and 60. Each of the bodies had gold and silver jewelry, and the man's body was discovered wearing a gold necklace and had been crowned with a gold diadem. All of the grave objects demonstrated a high level of skill and artistry.

"We are speaking of an elite family burial because of the monumentality of the structure, the rich finds and because of the fact that the burial is located in close proximity to the royal palace," Finkelstein said.