David Harris

A solid gold cobra, poised to strike, was uncovered in a seventh-century B.C.E. temple at Tel Miqne, a major Philistine city near the Mediterranean coast known in the Bible as Ekron. The cobra, or uraeus, is the symbol of authority often found on the crowns of Egyptian rulers. The one discovered at Ekron measures 8 inches from the tip of its tail to its venomous fangs. The presence of an Egyptian uraeus at Ekron highlights the Philistines’ readiness to absorb foreign cultural influences. In the accompanying article Seymour Gitin, co-director of the Ekron excavation, explains that, contrary to views held until recently, the Philistines did not disappear at the beginning of the first millennium B.C.E., but thrived for many centuries—until their destruction by the Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar in 604 B.C.E.