In a recent discovery, a commercial wine complex was found just south of Tel Aviv in Yavne. Four large warehouses were discovered, along with five 225-meter wine presses inside. The wine presses are believed to be about 1500 years old from the Byzantine era, which dates back to the 4th or 5th century. The complex also included kiln rooms where the clay vessels, called “Gaza jars” were made to store the wine. Jars were found intact as well as in tens of thousands of fragmented pieces.
In total, the wine complex was thought to produce about two million liters of wine per year, and is by far the largest complex of its kind from this era. The team was surprised to find the massive commercial space, given the need for manual production labor. They found that the “Gaza and Ashkelon Wine” was known to be quality, was sold in local vicinities, and was transferred through the ports of Gaza and Ashkelon, hence the given name.
“In the Mishna, it is said that after the destruction of Jerusalem (in70CE), the Jewish leadership migrated to Yavne and that the sages of Yavne lived in vineyards and studied Torah. The excavation shows a continuum of existence of the wine industry at the site over many centuries, a joint statement by excavators Dr. Elie Hadad, Liat Nadav-Ziv, and Dr. John Seligman.