A lare Byzantine-era wine press uncovered in the Negev region is only the second of its kind to be found…
According to the archaeologist of the southern Negev region Yoram Chaimi, the discovery of the wine press came as a complete surprise. “In the entire southern Negev region, there is only one other wine press that is included inside an enclosed structure, which is in [the Nabataean city] of Avdat,” also along the incense trade route.
Gini hypothesized as to why the wine press was abandoned. “In the middle of the sixth century CE, there was a disastrous plague, which led to less need of wine in the southern regions. After the plague, they continued to use the building, but not the winepress,” she said. At the end of the Byzantine period, the area was deserted. TimesofIsrael
Haimi, who is heading an ongoing dig aimed at unearthing the history of the Sobibor extermination camp in Poland, took a moment to speak to The Jerusalem Post while supervising excavation of the ancient wine press.
“Wine-making at the time was done using human labor,” he said. “The workers would step on the grapes, then the pulp would be delivered to a basin where the clear liquid would surface and the dregs sink. This clear liquid is tirosh, the grape juice most Israelis associate with childhood Seder meals in which they were given the sweet, nonalcoholic tirosh to drink for the traditional four cups of wine.
“The tirosh would be moved to fermentation pots. Negev wines were held in very high esteem at the time, like the boutique wines of today,’ said Haimi.
Wine production in the region went smoothly until a plague in the sixth century CE led to the decline of wine-making in southern Israel. The wine industry came to halt with the Arab conquest of the Levant and the end of the Byzantine period. Jpost