During November–December 2010, a salvage excavation was conducted in Qibbuz Mishmar David (Permit No. A-6061; map ref. 190515–33/636714–36), in the wake of damage to antiquities due to work prior to the installation of a sewage pipe. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by T.A.N. Earthmoving Works Ltd., was directed by Y. Elisha (photography), with the assistance of A. Hajian (surveying), M. Shuiskaya (pottery drawing) and R. Frankel and E. Ayalon (consultation). A. Shadman provided information regarding his nearby excavation prior to its publication.
A complex winepress consisting of a treading floor (L17), two settling pits (L13, L15) and two collecting vats (L11, L14) was exposed (Fig. 2). The pits and vats were paved with mosaic and coated with gray plaster (thickness c. 2 cm). The treading floor, of which very little had survived, was discovered paved with mosaic in the east of the excavation. The connection between the treading floor and the settling pits was not preserved. The two settling pits were located north of the treading floor. Settling Pit 13 (1.1×2.3 m, depth 0.45 m; Fig. 3) was the western of the two. A terracotta pipe emerged from its northern side to a chute (L18; Fig. 4) in the southern side of Collecting Vat 11 (2.30×2.35 m, depth 1.22 m; Fig. 5).
Settling Vat 15 (width 0.6, depth 0.2 m; Fig. 6), which was adjacent to the eastern side of Settling Pit 13, had two phases. The length of the vat in the first phase (1.5 m) was shortened in the second phase (0.85 m). A terracotta pipe emerged from its northern side to a chute (L19; Fig. 7) in the southern side of Collecting Vat 14 (1.5×2.0 m, depth 1.09 m; Fig. 8), which was covered with a vault that survived in the eastern part of the vat to a depth of 0.6 m (Fig. 2: Section 2-2). The vault was plastered like the sides. Pottery from the Byzantine period, including jars (Fig. 9:1–3) and a cooking pot (Fig. 9:4) was found inside Collecting Vat 11. A fragment of a limestone cup (Fig. 9:5), dating to the Early Roman period, was also discovered.
It is rare to find in a winepress a collecting vat covered with a vault. Nevertheless, c. 80 m north of the excavation another winepress with a covered collecting vat was discovered (HA-ESI 123
), and both of them were probably constructed by the same mason. Based on the finds recovered from the fill inside the winepress, it seems that the installation went out of use in the Byzantine period. A comparison with the winepress located nearby, which is dated to the Roman period, suggests that this press should also be ascribed to the same period. The stone vessel discovered in the fill in the winepress, which dates to the Roman period, indicates that activity transpired at the site in this period, supporting the proposal to date the winepress to this period. The winepresses show that in the Roman period, and possibly in the Byzantine period as well, grapes were grown in the region for the wine industry. Today, the region is also used for growing grapes and for an extensive wine industry (Fig. 10).