During April 2012, a salvage excavation was conducted along the southwestern outskirts of the Buchman compound in Modi‘in (Permit No. A-6487; map ref. 200419–571/643416–554), prior to development work. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by A. Re’em (field photography) and M. Ajami, with the assistance of R. Mishayev and M. Kahan (surveying and drafting).
A farming terrace and rock-hewn winepress were excavated. The excavation area was located c. 530 m from Khirbat Umm el-‘Umdan, where settlement strata that dated from the Persian until the Early Islamic periods were exposed (HA-ESI 114:64*–68*).
The farming terrace (L1; length 7 m, width 1.2 m, preserved height 1.5 m; Figs. 1, 2) was built of roughly hewn fieldstones, some of which were flint and some limestone. A trial trench was dug south of the wall. The upper level of the trench was a layer of soil (L2); the fill below it consisted of small fieldstones and gravel (L3), overlaying large fieldstones on the bedrock (L7), whose purpose was to level the surface before the fill was set in place. It seems that the wall delimited a cultivation plot, located further up the slope to its south. The ceramic finds included a scant amount of worn and eroded potsherds that could not be identified.
The winepress was hewn at the bottom of the slope and included a square treading floor (L4; 2.0×2.5 m; Figs. 3–5), whose southeastern half was preserved in a shallow rock-cutting. It seems that the northern half of the floor was completed with construction due to the pitch of the slope. A hewn drainage channel (L4A) led to a rounded collecting vat (L5; diam. 1.2 m, depth 2 m). The winepress installations took advantage of the natural differences in the elevation of the slope, so that the collecting vat was installed down the slope while the treading floor was located above it. The must had, thus, flowed quickly and efficiently to the collecting vat and the rock-cut drainage channel was not even used. Traces of light gray plaster, composed of lime and small stone inclusions, were found in the collecting vat, which was filled with medium-sized fieldstones and earth. A small step (L5B) was hewn in the side of the collecting vat, facilitating the descent into it. The floor of the collecting vat was missing and it seems to have been breached, revealing a layer of soft limestone, clayey soil and chunks of limestone (L5A), thereby negating the use of the winepress, which did not yield any finds.
Recently, many winepresses were excavated and documented in Modi‘in and its vicinity; the collecting vats were identified without floors or with broken floors (HA-ESI 122
; Permit Nos. A-6023, A-6152, A-6341). The current winepress joins dozens of others that were excavated and surveyed around Khirbat Umm el-‘Umdan (HA-ESI 124
). Given the nature of the plaster applied to the collecting vat, which was identified in ritual baths (miqwa
) of the Second Temple period that were excavated in the region, the winepress can be ascribed to this period (third century BCE–first century CE).