The Largest Ever Byzantine Era Winery is Discovered in Israel

An ancient winepress in the Negev Desert of Israel.

© Shutterstock

israel-ancient-winery

An ancient winepress in the Negev Desert of Israel.

© Shutterstock

Huge ancient winery

Archeologists in Israel have discovered the world's largest known Byzantine-era winery. Five presses, four large warehouses for aging wine, kilns to fire wine jugs, and tens of thousands of broken jug pieces were unearthed at Yavne, south of Tel Aviv. It is estimated the 1,500 year old complex produced around two million litres of wine a year. "The proportions here are incredible," Elie Haddad, an Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist who co-directed the two-year dig was quoted as saying by NPR.

Beautiful wine presses 

The winery produced Gaza or Ashkelon wine, named after the ports from where it was exported around the Mediterranean. “It was a light, white wine,” Dr Jon Seligman, a co-director of excavation told the Jerusalem Post. “We have found many wine presses in Israel, but what is unique here is that we are talking about a cluster of five huge ones, especially beautiful in their architecture.” Each wine press covers an area of around 223 sqm. It isn't known who operated the winery but archeologists say the decorations suggest they were wealthy.

 

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