Ilan Sztulman/Tel Miqne-Ekron Excavation Project

Religion and industry went hand-in-hand at Ekron. The excavators discovered this four-horned altar nestled inside a freestanding, 25.5-inch high stone niche built against the eastern mudbrick wall in the work/storage room next to the olive-oil installation. Each olive-oil industrial building at Ekron had at least one four-horned altar. Incense may have been burned on these altars to propitiate the gods and to deodorize the workplace. The altars may also indicate that Ekron’s industry was administered by a priestly class under royal authority.

The combination of cult and industry is well-known from several sites in the eastern Mediterranean. Interestingly, the four-horned altars at Philistine Ekron represent a cultic tradition from northern Israel. With all of Philistia and the northern kingdom of Israel under Assyrian domination by the seventh century B.C.E., some conquered Israelites were probably displaced to Ekron, where they may have established their cultic practices.