Two wine press for the production of wine from the Byzantine Period discovered archaeologists at the Tsipori National Park in northern Israel, according to the Nature and National Parks of the country. The constructions were found in a covered water tank, a discovery that the Authority described as “rare and unusual”, stating that for the first time in Israel wine presses were found in an arced, inactive tank.
According to the researchers, when the ancient reservoir was no longer in use, probably in the 4th century AD, it was suitably adapted to become a press with additional construction. The floor in the largest wine press is 3.2 square meters and the wine collection tank is 1.5 x 1.7 meters and 2.15 meters deep.
The smallest wine press or temporary storage area of the grapes has a size of 1.7 × 1.9 meters and was found next to the larger, together with a small elliptical trench 0.6-0.7 meters long and 0.5 meters deep.
Wine production in Israel has flourished during the Byzantine Period (4th-15th century AD) due to the high demand from the Jews, Christians and Samaritans living in the region, the Authority said, adding that over the years those were the largest population growth.
The city of Tsipori in antiquity was known as Sepphoris or Sephirous or Sepiphora (Greek Diocesarion, Latin Diocese). Quantities of wine at that time were exported.
The press was discovered in an excavation study launched in 2002 aimed at the tourism development of the Tsipori National Park, as well as the promotion of scientific studies by the Israeli Nature Authority and National Parks, according to the Athenian-Macedonian News Agency.
Head of research is Dr. Zvika Juk, Director of the Department of Archeology of the Authority, together with Dr. Josh Bordowitz and Dr. Dr. Ben-Joseph, in collaboration with Professor Jim Parker, vice-president of the Baptist Theological School, who partly finances the excavation.
Dr. Juk reported that “the material that overlaps the walls and arches of the two tanks is white plaster on the gray mortar and indicates that they were constructed in the first century or the beginning of the second century CE and are believed to have served as a reservoir water of the ancient city of Tsipori “.
The city of Chopri was home to a thriving mixed idolatrous, Christian and Jewish community in the 4th-7th century AD. There is no iconography in the press, which, according to Dr. Jake is expected. In such a heterogeneous society, it would be impossible to know who was making wine in these two wine-presses, he said.
“With the completion of the excavations, visitors to the Tsipori National Park will be impressed by the beauty and power of the ancient water tanks and the ancient presses that have been discovered,” he noted.
What is unique to Chopri’s presses, however, is the reuse of a water tank as its base, said Joke.
According to the head of the excavation research, “what makes the discovery unique is reuse of the tank as a base for the wine-presses. The grape presses are located in the largest of the two arched reservoirs, which are part of an impressive water supply system in the area, including the large aqueducts that supplied the ancient city of Tsipori with water. ”
The Nature and National Parks Authority intends to reconstruct part of the arches and ceiling found.
During the excavations, the workers and staff of the Authority managed to transport an ancient carob tree that grew up in the tank and is estimated to be 100 years old. With a complicated process, with the help of a excavator and a crane, the tree was successfully transported to the other side of the entrance to the National Park adjacent to the olive trees.