Oil and Wine Press : Byzantine period artifacts discovered in Ella Valley Dig

Photographic credit: Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

Photographic credit: Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
Photograph of the mosaic. Photographic credit: Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

Travelujah – October 2014

The Israel Antiquities Authority a Byzantine era compound in Ramat Bet Shemesh containing an oil press, wine press and mosaics.

According to Irina Zilberbod, an archaeologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority, “This was very likely a monastery”.

Remarkable finds, including blocked cisterns, a cave opening and the tops of several walls were visible on the surface during an archaeological survey conducted on foot along the hills south of Bet Shemesh. The archaeological dig that ensued underground exposed numerous articacts indicating a prosperous lifestyle dating to the Byzantine period which was previously unknown.

The Israel Antiquities Authority press release described the findings as a compound continaining two regions – an industrial area and an activity and residential area. Within the industrial area a large and impressive olive press was exposed and a large winepress was revealed outside the compount containing two treading floors where the grape juices likely flowed to a collecting vat. The findings indicate that wine and oil production were important industries for the communities living in this area.

The impressive construction which includes magnificent mosaic floors, window and roof tile artifacts are similar to those found in contemporary monasteries indicating that it was a likely home for monastic life.

The Israel Antiquities Authority has undertaken measures to preserve and develop the site as a landmark.

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Elisa L. Moed is the Founder and CEO of Travelujah-Holy Land tours, the largest Christian travel network focused on Holy Land tours. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.

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