Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Byzantine Period Olive Press Discovered

A "very formidable and rare olive press" was discovered recently in Western Galilee.  It is one of the largest known from Israel and dates to the 6th-7th centuries A.D.  From the Israel Antiquities Authority:

A unique and impressive complex for producing oil that dates to the Byzantine period, which is also one of the largest uncovered in the country so far, was discovered recently during trial excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority in Moshav Ahihud, in the Western Galilee. The excavations are being carried out as part of a development plan to enlarge the village....

In the middle of the building a central crushing mill (a large round stone) was uncovered upon which a millstone (referred to as a memel) was placed. It was customary to harness an animal to the axle of the millstone which would turn the stone and thereby crush the olives.

After crushing and breaking them, the olive pulp was brought for pressing in aqalim (baskets woven of coarse fabric or ropes). The aqalim were squeezed in a press and the olive oil was extracted as a result of this action. The baskets served as a filter whereby the liquid dripped out leaving the pits and pulp waste behind in the baskets. 

Three screw type press beds and a stone weight that was originally connected to the end of a. beam were revealed at the site.

The rest of the story, and photographs, are here.

HT: Joe Lauer

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