During August–September 2002 a salvage excavation was conducted at el-Kabri (Permit No. A-3711*; map ref. NIG 21462–3/7690–1; OIG 16462–3/2690–1), after a mosaic was damaged during the digging of a drainage trench alongside a road. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and funded by the Department of Public Works, was directed by H. Abu-‘Uqsa, with the assistance of Y. Ya‘aqoby (administration), A. Hajian, V. Pirsky and N. Getzov (surveying), N. Getzov and E. Stern (field photography), I. Berin (drafting) and H. Tahan (pottery drawing).
The excavation area was damaged by a bulldozer in the south and by a telephone cable trench in the north.
A large winepress, with a central treading floor (c. 5.8 m long, 4.2 m wide) and walls coated with a thick layer of hydraulic plaster, was exposed (Fig. 1). The partially excavated treading floor consisted of bedrock, made smooth by a careful inlay of stones in the cracks. Remains of plaster, which probably covered the floor and walls, were visible on bedrock. The floor sloped to the south and in its center was a circular stone with a trapezoid-shaped mortise in its center, used to anchor the press screw.
East of the treading floor was another cell or secondary treading floor (1.5–2.0 × 2.5 m; Fig 2) paved with a white mosaic (average size of tesserae 2.5 × 3.0 cm). Remains of an early phase floor were discerned at the southern end of the surface. Two perforations, which were cut in the wall that separated the two treading floors, were detected in each floor phase, conveying the liquid from the secondary to the main floor. No finds were found in the space between the two floors.
At the southern end of the main treading floor was a circular filtration vat (diam. and depth 0.6 m) in whose wall a perforation was cut, accommodating a ceramic pipe. The liquid was conveyed from the treading floor through the filtration vat into a large collecting vat that was exposed to its full width (c. 3.5 m; Fig 3), but not to its complete length. Five steps were built along the eastern wall of the collecting vat, descending to its bottom. The floor of the vat was paved with a white mosaic similar to that of the secondary treading floor. The walls were coated with a thick layer of plaster, which was applied to a layer of potsherds that facilitated the adhesion of the plaster to the walls. The vat had probably a capacity of 18,000 liters of must.
The winepress was dated to the Byzantine period based on the potsherds underlying the plaster on the collecting vat’s walls, including a bowl (Fig. 4:1) that dated from the middle of the sixth to the middle of the seventh century CE. After the winepress was no longer in use the collecting vat was turned into a refuse pit (L15), which contained numerous potsherds from the Umayyad period, including kraters (Fig. 4:2, 3), open cooking pots (Fig. 4:4, 5), closed cooking pots (Fig. 4:6, 7), a juglet (Fig. 4:8), jars (Fig. 4:9–11) and a pithos (Fig. 4:12).
At a later phase, two walls were built on top of the main treading floor; one wall was built on the installation’s press bed, thereby negating its use. A burnt layer (L11) extended from the top of the wall to bedrock.
The ceramic finds recovered from this layer included a krater (Fig. 4:13), a glazed bowl (Fig. 4:14) and cooking kraters (Fig. 4:15, 16), dating to the Abbasid period.