by Yael Adar
In archeological terms Tel Miqne-Ekron, is significant for a number of reasons: it is one of the largest Iron Age sites in Israel. More than 100 oil presses were found here, as well as the Ekron Inscription (that clearly identifies the site as Philistine Ekron). To the casual visitor (i.e. non-archaeologist), the points of interest at Kibbutz Revadim are the reconstructed Philistine street and the Ekron Museum of the History of Philistine Culture.
Tel Miqne((Arabic: Khirbat al-Muqanna') was apparently founded in the twelfth century B.C. Located in the fields of modern day Kibbutz Revadim, the city was first mentioned in the bible in Joshua 13:2-3 and is also mentioned in relation to the Ark of the Covenant (I Samuel 5;10). With the arrival of the Phlistines (one of the Sea Peoples), Ekron became a large fortified, urban center. It supplied the Egyptian as well as growing Assyrian Empire with huge quantities of olive oil, as much as 700 tons a year. In fact, it was the largest olive oil industrial center, in the ancient Middle East.
The olive oil installations each had a crushing basin and two pressing vats. Liquid was extracted from the crushed olives with the help of weights and log (an example of such an installation can be seen at the reconstructed street). The liquid was then transferred to huge jugs where the oil rose to the top and the water was drained.
The church historian, Eusebius of Caesarea, noted that Ekron had a Jewish population during his lifetime, in the fourth century. Known as Akkaron, or Accaron, during the Hellenistic period, Ekron was one of Philstia’s five urban centers - one of the cities that made up the Pentapolis (Gaza, Ashkelon [Ascalon], Ashdod, Gath, and Ekron). In fact, it was the word Philistia, which, under the Greeks served as the name for the whole country, in the form of the word, Palestine.
The Philistines brought their Aegean culture with them. They also had the monopoly for the metal industry in the Land of Israel and prevented the Hebrews from metal smithing. The city of Ekron was conquered and destroyed in 603 BC, by the Babylonian king, Nebuchadrezzar.
The reconstructed Philistine street features an oil press, a potters’ wheel, (since many jugs were produced on site to transport the olive oil that was produced at Tel Miqne). A loom is on display, as apparently there was quite an active textile industry.
Across from the reconstructed Philistine street is the small, one room museum, that features some of the finds from the excavations at the Tel. Some of the more important finds, such as the Ekron Inscription are on permanent display at the Israel Museum (a replica is displayed at the museum).
A stop at Revadim can be interesting, educational and varied. Jewelry utilizing Philistine design is made on the kibbutz and can be purchased. The kibbutz has an Italian restaurant, “Pasta at the Silo”, which as the name implies is located in what used to be a silo. It offers homemade pasta and also has a take out service. You should note that “Pasta at the Silo” is closed on Sundays and evenings. Call ahead on Saturdays for a reservation (the place is rather small). Those who prefer an authentic kibbutz experience can dine in the dinning hall, for a fee.
If you would like to use Revadim as a base for excursions to the beach (to the west), or Jerusalem (to the east), the kibbutz offers country style lodging decorated with, you guessed it, Philistine motifs.
Worth noting, if you try to visit Tel Miqne itself – you will find a site overgrown with weeds – where nothing is visible from the many years of excavations. However, plans are underway that may change all that in the near future.
Directions: Kibbutz Revadim is located west of Jerusalem (northeast of Kiryat Mala’achi) off Route #3, between Re’em and Nachshon junctions.
TEL 08/858-8762, 08/858-8913
Museum Visiting Hours: Sunday-Thursday 9:00 AM- 3:00 PM, Friday and holiday eves, 9:00 AM- 12:30 PM. Saturdays the museum is open only to groups and by prior arrangement. Guides in English, French, German and Hebrew are available by prior arrangement.
Entry fees apply.