An ancient wine production complex — the largest known in the world from the Byzantine period — has been discovered by a team of archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).
The 1,500-year-old winemaking facility was unearthed at an archaeological city in Yavne, a city in the Central district of Israel.
It had five magnificent wine presses (each covered an area of about 225 m2), four large warehouses for aging and marketing the wine, and kilns for firing the clay amphorae.
“We were surprised to discover a sophisticated factory here, which was used to produce wine in commercial quantities,” said IAA excavation directors Dr. Elie Haddad, Dr. Liat Nadav-Ziv, and Dr. Jon Seligman.
“Furthermore, decorative niches in the shape of a conch, which adorned the winepresses, indicate the great wealth of the factory owners.”
“A calculation of the production capacity of these winepresses shows that approximately two million liters of wine were marketed every year.”
“At the same time, we should remember that the whole process was conducted manually.”
The archaeologists also uncovered intact amphorae, known as Gaza jars, and thousands of their fragments.
“Gaza and Ashkelon Wine was considered a quality wine brand of the ancient world, whose reputation has spread far and wide, a bit like Jaffa oranges denote their origin and quality today from Israel,” they said.
“Everyone knew that this was a product from the Holy Land product, and everyone wanted more and more of this wine.”
“The wine received its name as it was marketed through the ports of Gaza and Ashkelon.”
“So far, other sites where wine was produced are known from the southern coastal plain, but now, we seem to have found the main production center of this prestigious wine.”
“From here, commercial quantities were transported to the ports, and then throughout the Mediterranean basin.”