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During the Iron Age, Ekron was a border city on the frontier contested between Philistia and the kingdom of Judah. Located at a site now known as Tel Mikne (or Tel Miqne), its identification with the Biblical city was possible due to its presence in the small Palestinian village of Aqir, whose name is thought to be derived from the ancient name. In 1948 the village was captured by the Giv'ati brigade prior to Operation Barak.
In 1883 Baron Edmond Rothschild established the settlement of 'Eqron 1 km south of the village.
Ekron lies 35 kilometers west of Jerusalem, and 18 kilometers north of Gath, on the western edge of the inner coastal plain. Excavations in 1981-1996 at the low square tel have made Ekron one of the best documented Philistine sites.
Ekron was a settlement of the indigenous Canaanites. The Canaanite city had shrunk in the years before its main public building burned in the thirteenth century BCE; it was refounded by Philistines at the beginning of the Iron Age, ca 1200s BCE.
Ekron is mentioned in the Book of Joshua 13:2-3:
- "This is the land that still remains: all the regions of the Philistines and all those of the Geshurites from Shihor, which is east of Egypt, northward to the boundary of Ekron."
Joshua 3:13 counts it the border city of the Philistines and seat of one of the five Philistine city lords, and Joshua 15:11 mentions Ekron's satellite towns and villages. The city was reassigned afterwards to the tribe of Dan (Joshua 19:43), but came again into the full possession of the Philistines. It was the last place to which the Philistines carried the Ark of the Covenant before they sent it back to Israel (1 Samuel 5:10; 6:1-8).
- Ahaziah fell through the lattice in his upper chamber at Samaria and was injured. So he sent messengers whom he instructed: "Go inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover from this injury." (JPS translation)
Non-Hebrew sources also refer to Ekron. The siege of Ekron in 712 BCE is depicted on one of Sargon II's wall reliefs in his palace at Khorsabad, which names the city. Ekron revolted against Sennacherib and expelled Padi, his governor, who was sent to Hezekiah, at Jerusalem, for safe-keeping. Sennacherib marched against Ekron and the Ekronites called upon the aid of the king of Mutsri. Sennacherib turned aside to defeat this army, which he did at Eltekeh, and then returned and took the city by storm, put to death the leaders of the revolt and carried their adherents into captivity. This campaign led to the famous attack of Sennacherib on Hezekiah and Jerusalem, in which Sennacherib compelled Hezekiah to restore Padi, who was reinstated as governor at Ekron. Ashdod and Ekron survived to become powerful city-states dominated by Assyria in the seventh century BCE. The city may have been destroyed by the Neo-Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzer II around 603 BCE, but it is mentioned, as "Accaron", as late as 1 Maccabees 10:89.
Excavations in the temple complex at Tel Miqne in 1996 recovered a significant artifact for the corpus of Biblical archaeology, a dedicatory inscription of the seventh-century king of Ekron 'Akish. The inscription not only securely identifies the site, it gives a brief king-list of rulers of Ekron, fathers to sons: Ya'ir, Ada, Yasid, Padi, 'Akish.
Of more than local interest is the recipient of the inscription, 'Akish's divine "Lady. May she bless him, and guard him, and prolong his days, and bless his land." The name or title of the Lady of Ekron is Ptgyh or Ptnyh. Aaron Demsky (Demsky 1997) reads the name asPtnyh and relates it to the title Potnia ("Mistress") that was applied to the Great Goddess of the Aegean, in her various local manifestations, which include Mycenaean sites. A much earlier representation of the Lady of Ekron, perhaps thirteenth century BCE offers her left breast.
More recently, Stephen R. Berlant  argued that the name of this goddess was Petryah, a Hebraized variation or corruption of the name Pidray of Baal's daughter, in accordance with Demsky's suggestion that "the reading will be strengthened if it results in a recognizable term that more aptly ts the context." That this is indeed the case can be appreciated by considering, first, that Ptryh can be identified as a personified, feminine form of an anciently widespread Afro-Asiatic word for, among other things, seeing, beholding, explaining, calling and interpreting, especially dreams, that appear as such in Egyptian, Nabataean, Jewish Aramaic, the Phoenician language, Punic, Neo-Punic, the Akkadian language, and Hebrew words for seers and interpreters, as well as in Punic family names. The Hebrew word ptr was therefore used particularly with respect to a seer interpreting dreams and visions in Gen. 40:8, telling how the Hebrew seer Joseph interpreted the Pharaoh's dreams:
"And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream and [there is] none that can interpret (ptr) it: and I have heard say of thee, [that] thou canst understand a dream to interpret (ptr) it."the folllowing facts.
In addition, 2 Kings 1:2 tells how the Hebrew king Ahaziah sent a messenger to Ekron to ask the god Baal-Zebub whether he, Azahiah, would recover from an injury he had suffered:
"Go, inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover from this injury."
Ahaziah's act was, however, in direct conflict with a Hebrew prohibition against seeking advice from foreign Gods. So, 2Kings 1:16 tells how the Lord sent a messenger to admonish and, ultimately kill, Ahaziah:
"Because you have sent messengers to inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, [is it] because [there is] no God in Israel to inquire of His word? Therefore you shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die."
Hidden in the name Petryah and the prohibition against seeking the advice of Baal Zebub is, however, another, more interesting and more important prohibition that can be elucidated by putting the following facts together:
(1) Baal Zebub was, as it clearly reveals, derived from Hebrew ba'al 'lord' and zebub 'fly'. However, Thomas Kelly Cheyne and New Testament authors attempted to explain this name away by corrupting zebub into zebul 'high place' in an effort to explain why anyone would have been worshiping a "Fly-diety." <p> <p>(2) Ptryh, in addition to having been the name of this mysterious Ekron goddess, can be identified as a theophoric form of the Hebrew word ptr 'mushroom'<p> <p>(3) A mushroom known technically as the Amanita muscaria has traditionally been known throughout the world as the Fly-mushroom because of its ability to attract and stupefy flies<p> <p>(4) R. Gordon Wasson and Valentina Pavlovna Wasson argued that Baal Zebub was a personified Fly Agaric that Hieronymous Bosch was alluding to by including in the Garden of Earthly Delights flies, mushrooms, naked people under mushroom-like canopies, and strawberries with white spots that, thus, resemble A. muscaria caps  <p> (5) The evidence that ancients seers routinely ingested the A. muscaria and other psychotropic mushrooms prior to prophesying <p> There are thus reasons for believing that the name Petryah of this enigmatic goddess was coined to indicate that she had originally been a deified A. muscaria, like her father Baal Zebub -- the Ekronite analog of the Elean and Arcadian deity known as Apomuios 'from which flies spring' and "Muiagros," "The Fly Catcher". As Pausanias tells it " At the festival (of Athena) they sacrifice first to Fly-catcher, praying to the hero over the victims and calling upon the Fly-catcher. When they have done this the flies trouble them no longer." 8.26.7. <p> There are thus also reasons for believing that the cult activities that revolved around Petryah at Ekron was a theophagic right wherein a priestess would ingest Petryah's botanical embodiment, the A. muscaria, which seemingly rendered this priestess Petryah's human embodiment, after which the priestess would use her mediumship to channel Petryah's voice to her supplicants.<p> <p> This practice would have then been an ancient Near Eastern analog of the Mesoamerican ritual, known as a velada, during which a curandero ingests a quantity of psychotropic mushrooms before channeling the mushrooms' words to his supplicants, as <p>. That this goddess was depicted with her arms crossed squeezing her breasts therefore renders that depiction an ancient Near Eastern analog of The Venus of Willendorf and other so-called Venus or Goddess figurines.
- ↑ Thomson, 2004, p. 534/
- ↑ 'All that remains'. ISBN 0 88728 224 5.Page 360.
- ↑ S. Gitin, T. Dothan, and J. Naveh, "A Royal Dedicatory Inscription from Ekron," Israel Exploration Journal 47 (1997): 9-16
- ↑ See Potnia theron the "Mistress of the Animals".
- ↑ Berlant, JANES 31:15-22/
- ↑ Mushrooms Russia and History, Pantheon Books, New York. 1957
- ↑ Berlant, Stephen R., Mycolatry and Theophagy in The ancient Near Eastern City of Ekron. In Press
- ↑ Henry Munn discussed in The Mushrooms of Language
- Demsky, Aaron. "The Name of the Goddess of Ekron: A New Reading," Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society vol. 25 (1997) pp. 1–5
- M. G. Easton, Illustrated Bible Dictionary 1897
- Schoville, Keith; Stone Campbell Journal, Vol. 4, No. 1
- Berlant, Stephen. "The Mysterious Ekron Goddess Revisited," Journal of The Ancient Near Eastern Society vol. 31 pp. 15–21 
- Munn, Henry. "The Mushrooms of Language. In "Hallucinogens and Shamanism", Michael J. Harner, ed. Oxford University Press. 1973 
- History of Ekron through archaeology of the Tel Mikne site.
- The Ekron inscription
- Trude Dothan and Seymour Gitin, Ekron of the Philistines BAR 16:01, Jan/Feb 1990
- Wasson, R. Gordon and Valentina Wasson, Mushrooms, Russia and History 
- W. M. Thomson (2004), The Land And The Book: Or, Biblical Illustrations Drawn From The Manners, Gorgias Press LLC, ISBN 1593331304, http://books.google.ca/books?id=hB9qLSSMowQC&pg=PA534&lpg=PA534&dq=ekron+akir+palestinian&source=web&ots=FWqHS1pTpH&sig=KbxTFSNSBoJ_g0WQR7W8kG6EwrU&hl=en
- Robinson, Edward, Eli Smith (1841): Biblical Researches in Palestine, Mount Sinai and Arabia Petraea: A Journal of Travels in the Year 1838a, Published by Crocker & Brewster, Item notes: v. 3 (see p. 22)