During July 2008, a salvage excavation was conducted north of Tel Zor‘a (Permit No. A-5482; map ref. 19865–7/631806–37), after the discovery of a rock-hewn winepress prior to construction south of Moshav Tarum. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the contractor, was directed by P. Betzer (photography), with the assistance of Y. Ohayon (administration), M. Kunin (surveying) and D. Levy (GPS).
The small winepress (Figs. 1, 2), located on the edge of Tel Zor‘a, has a simple plan that includes an elliptical treading floor (1.2×1.4 m, depth 0.17 m) and a rectangular collecting vat (0.7×1.0 m, depth 0.55 m) to its east. The vat’s sides are slightly curved and its bottom slopes toward the center where a sump is hewn. A channel whose cross-section is triangular (width 0.12–0.30 m), possibly due to eroding bedrock, linked the treading floor to the vat. The treading floor was apparently damaged by quarrying activity in the twentieth century, as evident by holes for placing explosives that are visible on the bedrock surface; only about three quarters of its area is preserved. No potsherds or other small artifacts that may hint to the date of the installation were found in the excavation or in its immediate vicinity. A crushing basin (yam) that belonged to an olive press (diam. 1.9 m, thickness 0.9 m, diam. of central recess for securing a wood beam 0.4 m; Fig. 3) was discovered c. 60 m southwest of the winepress; the stone may be in situ.
These finds join the many winepresses and olive-press elements that are known in the area of Tel Zor‘a, which testify to the importance of growing grapes and olives in the region’s economy.