Friday, January 21, 2005

3rd century BCE village reveals early commerical wine production

Haaretz - Israel News: "A farmhouse, built in the third century BCE and surrounded by five wine presses, has been discovered on land between what today is Moshav Gan Sorek and the Tel Aviv-Ashdod highway.

The house had a few wings and an area of about 1,230 square meters (13,200 square feet). The quantities of wine produced in the five presses was more than required by those who lived there, meaning that the farm residents earned their livelihood from producing wine in commercial quantities. The wine apparently was produced for export and was shipped to Mediterranean countries via the nearby port at Yavne Yam (today Kibbutz Palmahim).

The village and the farmhouse were built during the Hellenistic period, when sovereignty over the Land of Israel shifted from the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt, to the Seleucids, whose center of power was in Syria. Buildings in both the village and the farm were made of mud bricks, used on stone foundations from the previous Persian era (fourth century BCE). Some of the walls were preserved to a height of about one meter, even though the bricks were merely sun-dried, with limited durability when exposed to water and humidity.

Among the artifacts found at the site were handles of jugs bearing inscriptions from Rhodes, leading Ed to the conclusion that the residents imported fine wines from that Greek island. There were also pottery lamps, decorated bowls and plates imported from Greece, stoneware from Egypt, 300 coins, some of them silver, which originated in the region that is now Lebanon, Greece and Turkey, arrows, bronze make-up implements and needles, and iron agricultural tools such as a scythe and a pruning shears. "