In April 2013, a salvage excavation was conducted at 1 Dondikov Street in Rehovot (Permit No. A-6764; 644767/182436; Fig. 1), prior to the construction of a park on the site of Khirbat Deiran. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Rehovot municipality, was directed by D. Barkan, with the assistance of Y. Amrani and E. Bachar (administration) R. Mishayev and M. Kahan (surveying and drafting), A. Peretz (field photography), A. Dagot (GPS), A. Gorzalczany, U. ‘Ad and E. Ayalon (scientific consultation) and laborers from Wadi ‘Ara. M. Ajami and F. Volynsky assisted as well.
An excavation area (4.0 × 6.5 m; Figs. 2, 3) was opened north of the complex winepress, which included a central treading floor (I), an intermediate vat (II), two collecting vats (III, IV) and six auxiliary floors around the central platform. In addition, the western section left behind by Roll and Ayalon was expanded westward. While doing so, another section of the mosaic pavement of the winepress’ treading floor (L101) was revealed. A wide wall (W1) built of partially dressed stones and preserved two courses high (0.15 m) was exposed c. 2.5 m north of, and parallel to, the wall that enclosed the winepress’ northern cells. Between the walls a fill consisting of gray soil overlain with a tamped layer of small stones, lumps of mortar and soil (L102). It seems that W1 delimited the northern side of two large cells (each 1.26 × 4.70 m) built above Cells V and VI, which were discovered in the past, and that Level 102 was evidently part of the mosaic’s foundation in these upper cells. Apparently, the floor of the upper cells was 0.9–1.0 m higher than that of the lower cells and of the treading floor. Byzantine-period Ribbed body sherds and body sherds of Early Islamic-period vessels made of buff-colored clay were discovered in the excavation. A vault spring preserved in Cell V (Roll and Ayalon 2009:265) and the plan which bears great similarity to complex winepresses discovered in Petah Tiqva (Mulabbis; Gudovitz 2009), Mazor (Area M2; Amit 1998:59*–60*) and Horbat Shelah (Haiman 2009), suggest that the cells surrounding the treading floor were covered by vaults, which, in turn, carried a set of upper cells, which had not survived. The upper cells were paved with a mosaic, and a drainage opening was installed in the floor of each cell that led to the smaller cell below it.
Most researchers believe the upper cells surrounding the treading floor served for placing the grapes prior to pressing. The must that collected in these cells flowed into the bottom cells by way of the openings; this was considered the choicest must (Ayalon, Frankel and Kloner 2013:23). According to Y. Dray (2011), the fermentation process occurred in the upper cells and the wine was conveyed via the bottom cells and the treading floor to the collecting vats.
The excavation revealed a much larger winepress than previously assumed by the excavators. This winepress joins a group of complex winepresses that represent the most developed wine production technology in antiquity.
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