EKRON (Heb. עֶקְרוֹן), one of the capital cities of the Philistine Pentapolis. According to the Bible, Joshua allotted it to the tribe of Dan on its northeastern border with Judah (Josh. 15:11, 45–46; 19:43), and Judges 1:18 relates that it was captured by the tribe of Judah. In Joshua 13:3, however, and all later sources, Ekron appears as one of the five cities of the Philistine confederation.
The biblical city of Ekron is now identified with Tel Miqne (Khirbat al-Muqannaʾ), a large fortified mound (75 acres), situated 22 mi. southwest of Jerusalem on the frontier zone that once separated Philistia from Judah. Apart from ceramic finds from the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Ages, the earliest remains of a settlement at the site date from the Middle Bronze Age (MB II), including monumental platforms – the base of a fortifications rampart, and intramural burials. The Late Bronze Age settlement was apparently unfortified and restricted to the ten acres of the northeast acropolis/upper city, while the lower city was abandoned. Finds attest to links with Cyprus, the Aegean, and Anatolia, on the one hand, and Egypt, on the other. The final LB stratum was destroyed by fire.
Ekron saw a process of re-urbanization during the Iron Age I with the founding of the first Sea Peoples/Philistine city in the second quarter of the 12th century B.C.E. This fortified urban center, encompassing upper and lower cities, was characterized by a new material culture with Aegean affinities, including megaron-type buildings and local versions of Mycenaean (IIIC:1) wares. The Iron Age I city was destroyed in the first quarter of the tenth century B.C.E., either by the Egyptians (at the time of Pharaoh Siamun) or by the Israelites. The Iron Age IIA–B city (tenth–eighth centuries B.C.E.) was limited to the northeast acropolis/upper city. Following the Assyrian conquest in 701 B.C.E., when Ekron became an Assyrian vassal city-state, the city once again expanded encompassing the lower and upper cities and a new area of 25 acres to the north of the site. During the Iron Age II period, when the Aegean affinities of the Philistine material culture had ceased to exist, the Philistines themselves did not disappear but underwent a process of acculturation. Nevertheless, throughout this period the Philistines were able to maintain their ethnic identity. Excavations have shown that in the seventh century B.C.E. Ekron achieved its zenith of economic growth, with the largest industrial center for the mass production of olive oil yet known from antiquity.
A dedicatory inscription dating to the second quarter of the 7th c. BCE was discovered in a Philistine temple at Ekron. This inscription refers to two kings of Ekron who are also attested in the Neo-Assyrian annals, namely Padi and his son Ikausu (aka Achish, Ikausu is the Assyrian pronunciation), the builder of the temple, and identifies the site as Ekron.
According to the inscription, Achish dedicated the temple to “his lady” — a goddess whose name was spelled with the consonants PTGYH. “May she bless him and protect him and prolong his days and bless his land,” reads the text, The name of the goddess is especially interesting because it is of Greek origin, a hint to the origins of the Philistines themselves. The name suggests that ties to their roots endured even five centuries later. Other finds have shown that they still ate grass pea lentils, an Aegean staple, and some of their art recalls that of ancient Greece.
Gitin, Dothan and Naveh equate PTGYH with Asherah, whose name appears on a votive jar from Ekron. Shafer-Lichtenberger reads PTGYH as Pythogajah, arguing that she was Ekron’s principle deity. In this view, there is a possible connection between PTGYH and Delphic Gaia.