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Byzantine-era wine press found in Israel

A 1,600-year-old wine press has been found in the southern Negev desert.

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.

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Story: Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel | Photo: Tali Gini, Israel Antiquities Authority

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