The Tel Miqne-Ekron Excavations

For real? Archaeologists have long suggested that Tel Miqne is Biblical Ekron, one of the Philistines’ five capital cities, though until recently they have had no proof. In the Bible, the Philistines capture the Ark of the Covenant and bring it to Ekron, where the citizens cry out in panic that the Ark belongs to the God of Israel, who will punish them for desecrating it; the city is then stricken with a deadly plague (1 Samuel 10–12).

In 1996 excavators Trude Dothan and Seymour Gitin found a temple inscription (the excavators and inscription are shown) bearing the name “Ekron” and mentioning two of Ekron’s kings: Achish and Padi (Achish’s father). In seventh-century B.C.E. Assyrian annals, Achish, called Ikausu, is mentioned as king of Ekron. Padi is mentioned in the Assyrian king Sennacherib’s account of his 701 B.C.E. military campaign in the Levant, during which he captured Ekron.

Niels Peter Lemche, however, in the accompanying interview, questions the authenticity of the inscription. The two kings mentioned in the inscription, Achish and Padi, are both mentioned in Assyrian sources, he notes; this is too much of a coincidence not to inspire doubt. For this reason, Lemche charges that the Ekron inscription may be a forgery.