Saturday, February 20, 2010

Giant 1,400-year-old wine press discovered in southern Israel

Israeli archaeologists have discovered an unusually shaped 1,400-year-old wine press that was exceptionally advanced for its time.

The octagonal press measures 21ft by 54ft and was discovered in southern Israel, around 25 miles south of both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

At the time the press would have been used, the whole area was part of the Byzantine Empire - the eastern half of the old Roman Empire.

Excavation director Uzi Ad, of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said: 'What we have here seems to be an industrial and crafts area of a settlement from the sixth to seventh century, 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.'

The wine was probably intended for export to Egypt, then a major export market, or to Europe, he added.

An identical wine press was previously uncovered 13 miles away, north of Ashkelon.

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