In July 2006 a salvage excavation was conducted in the center of the town of El‘ad (Permit No. A-4859*; map ref. NIG 19547/66173; OIG 14547/16173), west of a winepress that was previously exposed by D. Amit (ESI 18:59–60, Fig. 114), after mechanical equipment caused damage to the western side of the press. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and with the financial support of the El‘ad Local Council, was directed by U. ‘Ad, with the participation of E. Bachar (administration), A. Hajian (surveying and drafting), M. Shuiskaya (pottery drawing) and M. Avissar (pottery reading) and with the assistance of D. Amit.
In the excavation (50 sq m), parts of a Byzantine winepress (Amit, Area M2) were exposed as well as three rooms dating to the Ottoman period located to the west of the winepress.
The Amit excavation yielded a complex winepress that included a primary and secondary system arranged at right angles to each other (Fig. 1). The primary system consisted of an almost square treading floor (L268; 5.4 × 6.0 m) in the center of which was a stone base for anchoring the wooden screw of a press (L269), and a square collecting vat (L272) to its east. North and south of the floor, on a higher level, were five upper surfaces, three in the north (Loci 279, 701, 702) and two in the south (L262). These were connected by means of an aperture to four semicircular receptacles with vaulted ceilings that were built beneath them. The secondary system was similar to the primary system but smaller; it included a treading floor (L707; 3.7 × 4.0 m) and a collecting vat (L275). All of the parts of the winepress, including the vats and the receptacles, were paved with a white mosaic floor.
In the northern part of the excavation the wall that delineated the northern side of the winepress and its upper surfaces were discovered (W6; Fig. 1). The remains of a mosaic floor foundation of two additional upper surfaces (L10) were exposed south of the western part of Wall 6, abutting the wall from the south. These surfaces were separated by a partition (W7), of which only its foundation was preserved. The foundation of a semicircular niche (L12; Fig. 2) was discovered south of and below a later wall (W370). All that survived of this niche was the bedding of a mosaic floor and the bottom part of its sides which were treated with a reddish plaster. The opening of the niche faced east, to a bedrock surface (L7). Above the surface was a fill layer that dated to the Byzantine period. The stones to the north and south of the niche were bonded with light colored lime-based mortar identical to the bonding material used in the other walls in the winepress. We can therefore assume that these stones were part of the wall that delimited the eastern side of the upper western surfaces of the winepress.
In the Ottoman period three rooms (Loci 1–3; Fig. 3) were built on top of the western part of the winepress. Two use-phases were exposed in the two western rooms (Loci 1, 3). The first phase in the southern room, which was delineated by Walls 3, 4, 5, included a floor made of bedrock and flagstones to the east (L13) and a light colored plaster floor (thickness 5–10 cm) to the south (L6). In the northwestern room, which was delimited by Walls 2 and 3, a light color plaster floor (L9) was exposed with an overlying burnt layer (thickness 20 cm; Fig. 4) that contained a few fragments of pottery vessels and much charcoal. A step located in an entrance that was exposed in the middle of W2 led up from the room to Room L8 (=L705 from Amit's excavation). The floor of this room (Fig. 5), which abutted Walls 1, 2 and 3, was made of crushed limestone (thickness 5 cm) and was founded on reddish material mixed with small stones. The wall (W3) that separated the northern rooms (Loci 2, 3) from the southern room (L1) continued to be used in the later phase. A floor that consisted of a thin layer of very smooth cement poured on top of small to medium-sized fieldstones (length 10–15 cm) and a layer of friable limestone (thickness 5–10 cm; Loci 4, 5) was laid in the rooms. In this phase the walls of the rooms were covered with 2–3 thick layers of white plaster, the outer one of which was painted turquoise. The southern room (L1) was enlarged to the east by the construction of Wall 370, built on top of the winepress's treading floor and Wall 5. Square pilasters (0.8 × 0.8 m) which protruded into the room and constituted the base of a groined vault were exposed in the corners of the room. Due to the poor preservation of this phase in the northern room (L3) it was not possible to ascertain if the opening in Wall 2 also continued to be used in this phase.
The pottery vessels recovered from the floors of the rooms in the early phases (Loci 6, 9), including a bowl (Fig. 6:1) and a storage jar (Fig. 6:4) and the late phases (Loci 1, 2), including a storage jar (Fig. 6:6) from the eastern room (L8) and a bowl (Fig. 6:3) from later floors (L4), indicate that the building, while having undergone changes, was also used in the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries.