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Archaeologists uncover 1,500 year old wine factory in Israel

A wine factory, comprising 1,500-year-old wine presses, has been uncovered by archaeologists in the city of Yavne, south of Tel Aviv.

The factory, that would have been be capable of producing two million litres of wine a year, includes five wine presses, ageing and bottling warehouses as well as kilns for firing amphorae in which the wine was stored, has been uncovered by archaeologists according to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).

The site, according to the IAA, dates back to the Byzantine era around the 4th-5th century CE, making the winery the largest known to exist from the period.

The directors of the excavation Dr. Elie Haddad, Liat Nadav-Ziv and Dr. Jon Seligman said in a joint statement: “We were surprised to discover a sophisticated factory here, which was used to produce wine in commercial quantities. Furthermore, decorative niches in the shape of a conch, which adorned the winepresses, indicate the great wealth of the factory owners.”

They added: “A calculation of the production capacity of these wine presses shows that approximately two million litres of wine were marketed every year, while we should remember that the whole process was conducted manually.” 

Each wine press at the Yavne site covered an area of ​​about 225 square metres, with a treading floor where the grapes would be crushed underfoot surrounded by separate compartments and vats for fermentation and wine storage. 

Archaeologists at the site reportedly found earthen jars as well as tens of thousands of fragments at the complex, which also featured well-planned access routes between the different facilities.

Tours of the site are set to be offered in the near future. The plan is for the site to be preserved and later opened as an archaeological park.

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