The wine press was found during an excavation by the Israel Antiquities Authority in an agricultural area in the vicinity of Nahal Soreq [English, Sorek]
One of the largest wine presses ever revealed in an archaeological excavation in the country, which was used to produce wine in the Late Byzantine period (sixth-seventh centuries CE), was recently exposed in excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority. The excavation was carried out in a region that will be the farmland of Ganei Tal, a new settlement slated to be built for the evacuees from Gush Katif.
The impressive wine press is 1,400 years old and measures 6.5 x 16.5 meters [c. 21 x 54 feet]. It was discovered southwest of Kibbutz Hafetz-Haim and was partly damaged during the installation of the infrastructure there.
According to Uzi Ad, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “What we have here seems to be an industrial and crafts area of a settlement from the sixth-seventh century CE, which was situated in the middle of an agricultural region. The size of the wine press attests to the fact that the quantity of wine that was produced in it was exceptionally large, and was not meant for local consumption. Instead it was intended for export, probably to Egypt, which was a major export market at the time, or to Europe.
The excavation director says,
“This is a complex wine press that reflects a very high level of technology for this period, which was acquired and improved on from generation to generation”.
According to the press release,
Rectangular surfaces were also discovered around the treading floor. These too were originally paved with a mosaic floor and were connected to the treading floor by way of a hole in the wall they shared with it. The grapes were probably placed on these surfaces before being trod on, and sometimes the initial fermentation process of the grapes would begin.
A spokesman for the Nahal Soreq Regional Council says the Council will converse the site and open it to the public.
The full press release may be read here. I am hopeful that later in the day we will have a better photo to share.
Wine presses were in common use throughout biblical times, and we learn that some of them were large. One, during the period of the Judges, is described as large enough to use for a threshing floor for wheat.
The LORD’s angelic messenger came and sat down under the oak tree in Ophrah owned by Joash the Abiezrite. He arrived while Joash’s son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress so he could hide it from the Midianites. (Judges 6:11 NET)
We posted an aerial view of the Sorek Valley here.
HT: Joseph I. Lauer