Archaeological excavations of the Israel Antiquities Authority conducted recently in Jaffa revealed impressive remains of an industrial installation, probably a winepress, from the Byzantine period.
Installations such as these are usually identified as wine presses for producing wine from grapes, but it is also possible they were used to produce wine or another alcoholic beverage from other types of fruit that grew in the region.
According to Dr. Yoav Arbel, director of the excavations on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “This is the first important building from the Byzantine period to be uncovered in this part of the city. The fact that the installation is located relatively far from Tel Yafo adds a significant dimension to our knowledge about the impressive agricultural distribution in the region in this period.
“It is possible that the section that was discovered represents a relatively small part of the overall installation, and other elements of it are likely to be revealed in archaeological excavations along adjacent streets which are expected to take place later this year.”
The installation, which probably dates to the second half of the Byzantine period (sixth century to early seventh century, roughly 500 years after the destruction of Bayis Rishon), is divided into surfaces paved with a white industrial mosaic. Due to the mosaic’s impermeability, such surfaces are commonly found in the press installations of the period, which were used to extract liquid.
Each unit was connected to a plastered collecting vat. The pressing was performed on the mosaic surfaces, after which the liquid drained into the vats.
The excavation is being conducted before the modernization of the infrastructure of the city on behalf of the Tel Aviv municipality by the Mashlama Le-Yafo, within the framework of the Magen Avraham Compound project.
Upon completion of the excavation, the installation was covered, and new infrastructures were laid in place above it without damaging it, enabling continued work without compromising the preservation of the antiquities.
The Magen Avraham Compound project constitutes another tier in the development of the tourist, commercial and residential region in Jaffa and encompasses seven streets: No’am, Magen Avraham, Hai Gaon, Yossi Ben Yossi, Ardon, Ba’alei Ha-Tosafot and Resh Galuta.
The municipality is currently modernizing the underground infrastructure, roads and sidewalks within the framework of the project. The overhead electrical and telephone wires are being lowered as well, and street furniture and landscaping are being added.