26 May 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

The world’s largest Byzantine winepresses have been discovered in Israel

Archaeologists say they’ve discovered the world’s largest known Byzantine-era winery in the city of Yavne, south of Tel Aviv.

The Israel Antiquities Authority said the factory contains five wine presses, warehouses for maturing and bottling the wine, and kilns for burning the clay amphorae in which the wine was stored.

The site has been dated back to the Byzantine era, around the 4th-5th century CE, and is the largest such complex known to exist from the period.

The winery, dating back 1,500 years, is believed to have produced one of the finest white wines of the Mediterranean at the time. It was widely praised in Byzantine-era literature and known as Vinum Gazetum or Gaza wine because it was exported from the ancient port city near modern-day Gaza.

They estimate the winery produced between two to three million liters of wine a year.

Vats for wine storage at Byzantine winepress in Yavne (Yaniv Berman/IAA)
Vats for wine storage at Byzantine winepress in Yavne. Photo: Yaniv Berman/IAA

According to the excavation’s directors, the magnitude of the site and its ability to produce such a huge amount of wine using manual production methods was unexpected.

“The proportions here are incredible,” said Elie Haddad, an Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist who co-directed the two-year dig.

“A calculation of the production capacity of these winepresses shows that approximately two million liters of wine were marketed every year, while we should remember that the whole process was conducted manually”

Trash area of Yavne Byzantine winepress site where broken fragments of jars were thrown (Yaniv Berman/IAA)
Trash area of Yavne Byzantine winepress site where broken fragments of jars were thrown. Photo: Yaniv Berman/IAA

Each winepress found covers an area of about 2,400 square feet. Around the treading floor, where grapes were crushed by foot, were compartments for fermenting the wine and large octagonal vats that collected the wine.

The IAA said that “Gaza and Ashkelon Wine” was considered a quality wine brand of the ancient world, with a reputation that went beyond the immediate vicinity of the winepresses. The archaeologists said the wine was marketed through the ports of Ashkelon and Gaza — hence its name — and then transported throughout the Mediterranean Basin.

The dig also unearthed even more ancient wine presses about 2,300 years old, pointing to a longstanding tradition of winemaking in the area.

The winery’s owner is unknown, but archaeologists believe the huge, elaborate conch-shell embellishments indicate the owners were rich.

Cover Photo: Aerial view of the Byzantine winepress uncovered in Yavne (Asaf Peretz/IAA)

Related Articles

Relief masks discovered in Turkey’s ancient city of Kastabala

7 January 2022

7 January 2022

In the ancient city of Kastabala (Castabala), which dates back to 500 BC, located in Turkey’s southern province of Osmaniye,...

The new study presents evidence suggesting the use of threshing sledges in Neolithic Greece as early as 6500 BCE, about 3000 Years Earlier than Previously Thought

17 May 2024

17 May 2024

The threshing sledges, which until a few decades ago was used in many Mediterranean countries from Turkey to Spain to...

This summer, a 2,000-year-old “thermopolium” fast-food restaurant in Pompeii will reopen to the public

8 August 2021

8 August 2021

Archaeologists excavated a 2000-year-old fast food and drink counter “termopolium” on the streets of the ancient Roman city of Pompeii...

Hidden past of Ani ruins in eastern Turkey to be uncovered by excavations

31 May 2021

31 May 2021

Archaeological excavations will reveal the historical mystery behind the ruins of Ani on the present-day Turkey-Armenia border. The Ani archaeological...

Largest ever Roman silver hoard in Germany found in Augsburg

12 November 2021

12 November 2021

Archaeologists in Augsburg, Germany, revealed unearthed a historical hoard including 15 kg of silver coins from the Roman Empire’s era....

A 2000-year-old bronze military diploma was discovered in Turkey’s Perre ancient city

2 January 2022

2 January 2022

During excavations in the ancient city of Perre, located in the southeastern Turkish province of Adiyaman, archaeologists uncovered a bronze...

Medieval subterranean corridors found by accident in northeast Iran

1 October 2022

1 October 2022

The workers working on a routine road construction project near Shahr-e Belqeys (City of Belqeys) in northeast Iran made an...

1-meter tall bronze statue found in China’s Sanxingdui Ruins-Video

17 June 2022

17 June 2022

Chinese archaeologists have discovered a 1-meter tall bronze statue at the site of ancient Sanxingdui ruins site in southwest China’s...

A newly Discovered Church in Sudan could be a Cathedral

2 June 2021

2 June 2021

Archaeologists have found the remains of the largest church known from medieval Nubia in old Dongola (Sudan). Dongola was the...

1700-year-old weaving workshop discovered in southeast Turkey

4 December 2021

4 December 2021

Excavations carried out in the ancient city of Perre in the southeastern province of Adıyaman have unearthed a 1,700-year-old weaving...

Archeologists Discover Two Sphinxes measure 26 feet in length in Egyptian Ruins

21 January 2022

21 January 2022

Archeologists have discovered the remains of two huge sphinx statues, each measuring 26 feet in length, at the funerary temple...

1000-Year-Old Tomb Found in Perre Ancient City in southeast Turkey

1 July 2021

1 July 2021

A 1,000-year-old tomb was unearthed in the ancient city of Perre in Adiyaman province. Perre is one of the five...

Archaeologists identify a sunken Nabataean temple dedicated to the God Dusares at Pozzuoli

12 April 2023

12 April 2023

Off the coast of Pozzuoli on the Phlegrean Peninsula in Campania, Italy, underwater archaeologists have identified a sunken Nabataeans temple...

The historic Egyptian Palace is being demolished, it may hold a surprise underneath

27 August 2021

27 August 2021

The cause for the evacuation and demolition of the ancient Tawfiq Pasha Andraos Palace, located in the precincts of the...

Famous Egyptologist Zahi Hawass Wants to See Hieroglyphs as an İntegral Part of The Curriculum

23 February 2021

23 February 2021

The Egyptian council of ministers is discussing the introduction of archaeological and tourist materials in the education curriculum to help...