The Israeli authorities on Monday unveiled the "largest" wine production site of the Byzantine period.

It was unearthed in the south of the country, at the gates of the Gaza Strip, near the town of Yavne.

Over the past two years, archaeologists have unearthed a vast 1,500-year-old wine production site there.

The site did not look like bucolic vineyards at all, but rather like a real wine factory, with an annual production estimated at two million liters pressed at the foot.

Israeli archaeologists unveil the "largest" Byzantine-period wine production site in Yavne, southern Israel, on the outskirts of the Gaza Strip.

About two million liters of wine could be produced there per year.

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Wine in "industrial quantity"

The team of archaeologists, led by the Israel Antiquities Authority, discovered five presses of approximately 225 m² for the pressing at the foot of the grapes and two large octagonal vats for collecting the must.

Experts have also unearthed pottery kilns for baking the clay of elongated amphorae, called "Gaza jars", in which wine aged.

"We were surprised to discover a sophisticated factory here to produce wine in industrial quantities," said a statement from the three archaeologists who led the excavations, Elie Hadad, Liat Nadav-Ziv and Jon Selingman.

At the time, the Gaza Strip and the adjacent town of Ashkelon (south), near Yavne, were recognized for the quality of their wines marketed in the Mediterranean.

These excavations have also uncovered wine presses dating back 2,300 years, when the Achaemenid Persian Empire ruled much of the Middle East.

This shows, according to archaeologists, a centuries-long “continuum” of a wine industry.

The Yavné site will be “preserved” and will be part of a future archaeological park accessible to the public.


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