A vast winemaking complex discovered in the town of Yavne contains evidence of a Byzantine era winemaking powerhouse.
During this time in human history, wine served as a source of nutrition. It also functioned as a safer drink than often contaminated water.
But the wine made in this complex likely served as more than a functional drink. Evidence points to a wine with an excellent reputation.
Over the past two years, archeologists have uncovered “five wine presses, warehouses, kilns for producing clay storage vessels and tens of thousands of fragments and jars.”
Shown in the image above is one of several “completely intact, slender clay amphorae” used to age and store the wine for export. Imagine a clay object surviving over 1,500 to rest in the hands of an archaeologist today!
NPR reports that each winepress—where grapes were crushed by foot—covered an area of about 2,400 square feet.
“The proportions here are incredible,” said Elie Haddad, an Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist.
Enormous octagonal vats surrounded the winepresses to collect the grape juice for fermentation.
One of the site excavation directors, Jon Seligman, aid that the “Gaza” wine from this region was highly popular.
“This was a prestige wine, a light white wine, and it was taken to many, many countries around the Mediterranean,” said Seligman.
This region—a hub of trade for Jews, Samaritans, Christians and others—has long been known for winemaking. An even older winepress dating back 2,300 years was also found on the site.
So, if you enjoy a glass of wine this weekend, I hope this post lends you a sense of connectedness across the centuries.
Image credit: AP