The name Megiddo is derived from the original Hebrew word pronounced har-Megiddon, from which we get the English pronunciation Armageddon - a name well familiar to those who study Bible Prophecy. Megiddo in Hebrew means something like rendezvous, or place of troops.
Megiddo has had a very long history, going back past 3,000 B.C., mostly due to its strategic location on a pass through the Carmel mountain range. Those who held Megiddo controlled one of the best direct trade and military routes between Egypt and Mesopotamia (Iraq). The site has had at least two dozen different occupiers (see The Ancient Egyptians, Ancient Empires - Assyria, Ancient Empires - Babylon, Ancient Empires - Greece, Ancient Empires - Persia and Ancient Empires - Rome). Due to its strong defensive position, it was not one of the earliest cities taken by the Israelites after they entered the promised land under Joshua. By the time of King David however, the city came fully under Israelite control.
King Solomon, son of David, rebuilt Megiddo as a major center. Solomon did things in a grand way, and Megiddo was no different - he stabled 450 horses there and fortified it. After the division and decline of the northern and southern Israelite kingdoms of Israel and Judah (see Jews At War With Israel), Megiddo briefly fell under Egyptian and Assyrian control before eventually being destroyed and left a ruin, as it is remains today.
On September 19 1918, near the end of World War 1, British forces under General Edmund Allenby defeated Turkish forces at the Battle of Megiddo, whereby Palestine was transferred from Turkish to British control. Then, thirty years later, the British permitted the Zionists to declare the modern state of Israel (see United States, Britain and Israel).
Armageddon is of course most well-known from its single mention in The Bible, as a place where a great end-time gathering of armies is prophesied to occur - "And they assembled them at the place which is called in Hebrew Armageddon" (Revelation 16:16 RSV). It's significant that the Bible reference to Armageddon is that of a place where a great mass of troops will gather, not fight. The actual great battle will occur near Jerusalem.
Fact Finder: What sort of spirit beings will be responsible for the gathering of armies at Armageddon?