Ancient industrial installation found under Jaffa

February 21, 2013 17:50

Workers find “impressive remains” from the Byzantine era, according to the Antiquities Authority.

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Ancient industrial installation found under Yafo.

Jaffa archeological find 370. (photo credit: Courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority)

Under the asphalt streets of Jaffa, excavators have uncovered industrial liquid extraction installations amid a series of digs to prepare the area for infrastructure modernization – the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality announced on Wednesday.

Prior to performing infrastructural upgrades in Jaffa, under the Mashlama Le-Yafo program and part of the Magen Avraham Compound Project, workers were able to find “impressive remains” from the Byzantine era, according to the Antiquities Authority. Beneath today’s Hai Gaon Street are industrial liquid extraction mechanisms capable of providing a glimpse of hundreds of years of history, the authority stressed.

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While the installations uncovered were likely used in ancient times as wine presses, for producing wine from grapes, they also may have been employed to generate various other alcoholic beverages from the variety of fruits that grew in the region, joint information from the Antiquities Authority and the municipality explained.

“This is the first important building from the Byzantine period to be uncovered in this part of the city,” said Dr. Yoav Arbel, director of the Jaffa excavations for the authority.

This find is yet another archeological remnant of the widespread agricultural traditions enjoyed by Jaffa residents for thousands of years, with evidence beginning in ancient Egyptian documents and leading up to orchards of the Ottoman period, the authority noted.

However, this particular find demonstrates a wider agricultural distribution in the region than was previously identified, due to its relatively remote location from Tel Yafo, Arbel said.

Each of the units excavated was connected to a plastered collecting vat, which collected the pressed liquids, he said.

“It is possible that the section that was discovered represents a relatively small part of the overall installation, and other elements of it are likely to be revealed in archaeological excavations along adjacent streets which are expected to take place later this year,” Arbel said.

After the excavations of the installation were complete, municipal workers laid new infrastructure on top of the site without damaging it, enabling both continued infrastructural work as well as preservation, the Antiquities Authority and municipality said.

All in all, the Magen Avraham Compound modernization project will extend through No’am, Magen Avraham, Hai Gaon, Yossi Ben- Yossi, Ardon, Ba’alei Ha- Tosafot and Resh Galuta streets. In addition to revamping underground infrastructure as well as roads and sidewalks, the municipality will also be lowering electrical and telephone wires and adding new street furniture and landscaping, the city said.

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