During January 2012, a salvage excavation was conducted along the southwestern fringes of the Buchman compound in Modi‘in (Permit No. A-6407; map ref. 200067–98/643125–84), prior to development work. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by A. Re’em (photography, surveying and drafting).
A rock-hewn winepress that was discovered partially exposed was documented. Modern construction debris covered a small portion of the treading floor and a thin layer of alluvium covered the bottom of the collecting vat. The vat was located c. 250 m from Khirbat Umm el-‘Umdan (HA-ESI 114:64*–68*) where settlement strata dating from the Persian to the Early Islamic periods were found.
The winepress (L1; Figs. 1, 2) had a square treading floor (2.3×2.5 m, depth 0.3 m). To its southeast was a square collecting vat (L2; 1.05×1.15 m, depth 1.1 m; Fig. 3) that was paved with mosaic (average size of tesserae 2×2 cm). It has a small recess that used to drain off the sediment (L3) in its southwestern corner. The sides of the vat were coated with a lime-based, light gray-whitish plaster (thickness 2 cm) mixed with numerous small crushed stones.
A karstic fissure (L4; width 0.05 m, depth 0.05 m) that predated the hewing of the winepress extended across the treading floor from the northeast to the middle of the southern side and continued westward. The treading floor was hewn around it and the fissure was made deeper turning into a drainage channel that conveyed the must to the collecting vat. The fissure also crossed the northern wall of the collecting vat and a small cavity was breached in the side of the vat (L5). The cavity was sealed with fieldstones and soil and the part that faced the vat was plastered over. Outside the vat, in its southwestern and southeastern corners, were two small hewn niches (L6), possibly to stabilize wooden beams that supported a roof. A cupmark (L7; diam. 0.37 m, depth 0.15 m) was located next to the treading floor’s southwestern corner. No artifacts were found in the winepress and it could not be dated.
The winepress joins dozens of other winepresses that were excavated and surveyed around Khirbat Umm el-‘Umdan (HA-ESI 119
; HA-ESI 120
; HA-ESI 121
). In the absence of finds or a clear archaeological context, it is difficult to date the winepresses; however, it seems that they should be ascribed to the period when the rural Jewish settlement at Umm el-‘Umdan reached the peak of its prosperity in the Hellenistic and Roman periods (third century BCE–second century CE) or to the construction of the church at the site in the Byzantine period (fourth–sixth centuries CE).