Stratum II (Figs. 2, 3) yielded the remains of a winepress: three paved upper surfaces (L133–L135) and a lower paved surface (L125). The upper surfaces differ in size and shape, but the floor in all three slopes slightly (c. 4%) from north to south. Surface 133 is trapeze-like in shape, whereas Surfaces 134 and 135 are rectangular; Surface 135 is smaller. The surfaces were paved with coarse white mosaics (average tessera size: 2 × 2 cm), which were laid diagonally to the surfaces’ orientation. The mosaics were only partially preserved; a bedding made of a layer of crushed chalk and mortar overlaying small stones was exposed where the paving did not survive. Two partition walls (W124, W136) separated the three surfaces; only their foundation trenches were preserved. The surfaces were delineated on the north, east and west by walls (W102, W104 and W108; Fig. 4) built of basalt stones; no wall delimited the surfaces on the south. Wall 108 was preserved to the height of at least two courses, whereas W102 and W104 were preserved three–four courses high. A probe excavated along the outer, eastern face of W104 exposed its stepped foundation. Three rounded vats (L113, L120, L126; top diam. 0.45 m, bottom diam. 0.3 m, depth 0.5 m; Fig. 5) were installed to the south of the surfaces; their walls were plastered, and their floors were paved with course white tesserae laid in concentric circles.
The lower Surface (L125; c. 1.2 × 3.5 m; Fig. 6) was located at an elevation of c. 0.75 m below that of the three upper surfaces. It was paved with a course white mosaic. The mosaic was well preserved: it includes two rectangular frames, each formed by five lines of tesserae laid in accordance with the layout of the floor, unlike the rest of the floor, in which the tesserae were placed diagonally. One frame delimits the floor, and the other is set closer to the center of the surface; both frames include several black basalt tesserae. This may have belonged to a work surface or the floor of a collecting vat.
Two probes, opened in Surfaces 125 and 133 (0.5 × 0.5 m; not marked on plan), showed that the mosaics were laid on a bedding (thickness 0.10–0.15 m) comprising a layer of crushed chalk and mortar overlying a compact layer of small stones and mortar placed on a layer of gray soil. The excavation did not reach bedrock.
Stratum I (Fig. 7) yielded part of a dwelling built on the remains of the earlier stratum; some of its walls were built on top of the earlier walls (hence they are numbered as in Stratum II: W102, W104, W108). Part of a rectangular room (L140) with an earthen floor was excavated on the west part of the building. An open space with an earthen floor (L139), possibly a courtyard, occupied the center of the building; in its southern part was a short partition wall (W137). A curved wall (W109) unearthed in the east part of the square abutted W104 and W105. Wall 109 enclosed an open area (L138) that was partially excavated.
The pottery included a few imported red-slipped LRC bowls (Fig. 8:1–3) from the Byzantine period, which were found above the lower surface (L121) and in the probe beneath its floor (L131). Several Umayyad potsherds were also retrieved: fragments of a platter (Fig. 8:4) and a jug (Fig. 8:5) from topsoil (L100); and a fragment of a vessel decorated with a red stripe (Fig. 8:6) retrieved while cleaning Vat 120.
Most of the finds date from the Abbasid period, including fragments of glazed bowls. Some of these bowls were made using a yellow and green splash-glazed technique; one was found while dismantling W107 (L117; Fig. 8:7), and another—above Floor 138 (L114; Fig. 8:8). Other bowls from this period include a base of a glazed monochrome alkaline bowl found in a collapse above W105 (L119; Fig. 8:9), and two fragments—a base of a splash-glazed bowl (Fig. 8:10) and a body fragment of a sgraffito splash-glazed bowl (Fig. 8:11)—both recovered from topsoil (L100). Other vessels from the Abbasid period include a casserole (Fig. 8:12), a cooking pot (Fig. 8:13), a lid (Fig. 8:14) and a pithos (Fig. 8:15) found in topsoil (L100, L101) and in the underlying collapse (L119); a jar (Fig. 8:16) and a jug made of buff clay (Fig. 8:17) found above Floor 138 (L114); and a base of a jug made of buff clay found in topsoil (Fig. 8:18l; L100).
Several bones of sheep/goat and camel were retrieved, all on Stratum I floors. The collapse covering the floors (L119) yielded fragments of two basalt grinding stones: a loaf-shaped grinding stone (Fig. 9:1) and a round rotary-quern stone (Fig. 9:2).
The winepress uncovered in Stratum II includes three upper surfaces and one lower surface—features that characterize complex winepresses in Israel. In recent years, there has been some discussion as to how winepresses of this type were operated (Ayalon, Frankel and Kloner 2013
). These have focused, among other issues, on two questions: whether the upper surfaces were used for treading, storing or fermenting the grapes; and what was the exact function of the lower surface (Avshalom-Gorni, Getzov and Frankel 2008
; cf. Dray 2011
). These surfaces appear in many complex winepresses dating from the Byzantine period, but the T
amra winepress has an additional feature—the three vats which are located to the south of the upper surfaces. In addition, the T
amra winepress lacks an enclosing southern wall, and hence liquids could not have been left in the upper surfaces for fermentation. This seems to indicate that either the installation was not used in the production of wine, but rather of some other liquid, or that the fermentation did not take place in the upper surfaces. The location of the collecting vats and the lack of a southern wall delimiting the upper surfaces add to our information about the known types of winepresses, and may contribute to further the discussion regarding the operation of these installations.
The pottery found in the foundation of the winepress dates it to the Byzantine period at the very earliest. The scant remains of the Stratum I dwelling date from the Abbasid period and seem to indicate that the construction of the dwelling terminated the use of the winepress. Thus, the winepress may have been in use during the early part of the Early Islamic period, up to the construction of the dwelling.
The finds from Stratum II, dated to the late Byzantine period or even the beginning of the Early Islamic period, amplify finds from previous excavations that suggest that the settlement at the site reached its peak during this period (Tepper 2018
The winepress indicates that the local population did not necessarily adhere to Islamic dietary laws. The possibility that intensive grape cultivation and wine production were still practiced during the Umayyad and early Abbasid periods is consistent with the archaeological and epigraphic evidence, which attests to a thriving, wine-consuming Christian community at the site during this period (Di Segni and Tepper 2004
). If it can be proven that the winepress was indeed in use during the Early Islamic period, it would be possible to better define the religion of the population in rural-agricultural sites during this era.
Avshalom-Gorni D., Getzov N. and Frankel R. 2008. A Complex Winepress from Mishmar Ha-‘Emeq: Evidence for the Peak in the Development of the Wine Industry in Eretz Israel in Antiquity. ‘Atiqot
58:47–66 (Hebrew; English summary, pp. 65*–67*).
Ayalon E., Frankel R. and Kloner A. 2013. Wine Production in the Land of Israel in Antiquity: Advancement in Research or a Completely New Approach? Cathedra 145:15–36 (Hebrew).
Di Segni L. and Tepper Y. 2004. A Greek Inscription dated by the era of Hegira in an Umayyad Church at Tamra in Eastern Galilee. LA 54:343–350.
Dray Y. 2011. The Complex Winepress at Horbat Siv: Analysis and Interpretation. ‘Atiqot 65:89–92 (Hebrew; English summary, p. 70*).
Porat L. 2008. A Site from the Iron Age until the Early Islamic Period near Tamra in the Lower Galilee. ‘Atiqot 58:47*–56*.
Tepper Y. 2018. A Church from the Byzantine, Umayyad and Abbasid Periods and Remains from Iron Age I at Tamra (ez-Zuʻabiyya) in Ramat Issakhar. ‘Atiqot 90:56*–106* (Hebrew; English summary, pp. 168–171).