During February 2004, a salvage excavation was conducted at Horbat Qayit, south of Moshav Nehusha, in the Judean Shephelah (License No. B-283/2004*; map ref. NIG 1955–7/6146–8; OIG 1455–7/1146–8), prior to the expansion of the moshav. The excavation, on behalf of the Institute of Archaeology of Bar Ilan University, was directed by R. Avissar (photography), with the assistance of G. Rosenberg (surveying and drafting).
Several agricultural installations were recorded in a survey that was conducted in the region in recent years. The excavation exposed three rock-hewn winepresses and a cupmark, as well as a burial cave.
Winepress 1 had a circular treading floor (diam. 3.1 m; Figs. 2, 3) that sloped southward and a hewn tunnel that led to a rectangular collecting vat (0.92 × 1.80 m; depth 0.6 m). This is a ‘simple’-type winepress (R. Frankel, 1999, Wine and Oil Production in Antiquity in Israel and Other Mediterranean Countries, ASOR Monograph 10:51–52) whose upper part, where the crushing and pressing work was usually done, is slanted so that the liquid flows via a channel or perforation to a collecting vat. This very old type of winepress continued to be used in the Roman and Byzantine periods and therefore, cannot be dated on account of its typology.
Winepress 2 consisted of a square treading floor (2.9 × 3.1 m; Figs. 4, 5) that sloped eastward and a channel that led to a primary collecting vat (1.30 × 1.55 m, depth 1.10–1.25 m). Two steps were hewn in the southern corner of the vat and two circular settling pits were cut in the western corner and in the center of the vat, respectively. To the south, next to the treading floor and the primary collecting vat was another collecting vat (0.77 × 1.27 m, depth 0.6 m), which was connected to the primary vat by a tunnel and had a circular settling pit in its center. This winepress belongs to Frankel’s “complex installation for the production of wine” (R. Frankel 1984, The History of the Processing of Wine and Oil in Galilee in the Period of the Bible, the Mishnah and the Talmud. Ph.d Dissertation, Tel Aviv University, pp. 196–197). It comprises a rectilinear treading floor, a square settling and filtration pit and a square collecting vat. The liquid flowed from the treading floor via the settling/filtration pit to the collecting vat. This type of winepress appears around the country in several periods and can not be dated if lacking supplementary finds.
Winepress 3 comprised a square treading floor (2.20 × 2.95 m; Figs. 6, 7), which sloped northward and a hewn channel that led to a circular filtration pit (diam. 0.8–1.0 m, depth 0.45 m) in whose floor, on the southern side, a round settling pit was hewn. The collecting vat (1.2 × 1.8 m, depth 0.8 m) was connected to the filtration pit by a tunnel. Two steps, a high and a low one, were cut in the southern part of the collecting vat and in its floor, an elliptical settling pit at the southern side and a circular one near the northern corner, were hewn. This is also a “complex installation for the production of wine” according to Frankel, which consists of a circular collecting vat or settling pit, rather than a square one. This winepress type, like the former one, cannot be dated when lacking additional finds.
The bedrock-hewn cupmark (diam. 0.6 m, max. depth 0.3 m; Figs. 8, 9), was located halfway between Winepress 1 and the burial cave (below).
The burial cave (Fig. 10) was cut in bedrock and its entrance was blocked by large fieldstones (Fig. 11). At present, it can be accessed by way of a cistern (depth 4 m). The entrance had an arched lintel (Fig. 12); the corridor was rectangular and the single chamber was corbelled (1.9 × 2.1 m, height 1.7 m). Remains of ropes in the cave indicate it was plundered in recent years. An illicit dig next to the southern wall left the cave devoid of finds.
A few non-diagnostic potsherds were found. The installations could not be dated solely by their quarrying style, whereas the burial cave was probably of a Roman or Byzantine date, based on the quarrying and its proximity to H
orbat Qayit (HA-ESI 116
; HA-ESI 118