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Boys dig up ancient wine press

A group of history obsessed boys have “methodically” and with great care found and excavated a 6th -7th century AD wine press in Jerusalem.

Dating from the early middle ages, the wine press is either late Byzantine or early Muslim and covers an area five metres squared with a number of roughly hewn presses – little more than holes in the ground – with pipes leading to a bowl where the juice could be collected.

The unofficial site in the Neve Yaakov district was spotted by a jogger one evening who informed the Israel Archaeological Institute (IAA) concerned the site had been targeted by robbers.

According to Haaretz, The IAA duly arrived and were surprised to find the site – the existence of which they were unaware of – and also the great care that had been taken to excavate it.

Amit Ram, the IAA archaeologist in charge of digs in Jerusalem, told Haaretz that the dig was too careful and methodical to be the work of robbers and this view was confirmed when a boy of 13 appeared and proudly explained that he and his friends – all self-professed “archaeology buffs” – had been working on the site for some weeks.

The find is one of an increasing number of beer and wine producing sites that have been unearthed in northern Israel, which sometimes date back over 2,000 years.

Unofficial excavation of ancient monuments is technically a crime in Israel but the innocence and enthusiasm with which the boys conducted their “dig” means they will not face charges – though they have been told to channel their enthusiasm down more official routes next time.

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