Two squares were opened and remains of a complex winepress that dates to the beginning of the Islamic period were revealed (Fig. 2).
Two upper mosaic surfaces were exposed in the winepress. Such surfaces are also referred to as treading floors (for a different interpretation of their function in the winepress see, Avshalom-Gorni, Frankel and Getzov 2008; for an opposing view, Dray 2011; a detailed discussion of the on-going debate among researchers regarding the operation of winepresses in Ayalon, Frankel and Kloner 2013). The eastern surface (L104) was exposed completely and the western surface (L120) only partially. Two basins (L113, L114) were in the eastern surface, which was delimited by perimeter walls in the north (W108), east (W110) and south (W102).
The eastern surface (L104) was trapezoidal and generally oriented north–south (length 3.9 m, width of upper base 2.9 m, width of lower base 2.4 m). The floor of the surface consisted of white mosaic (tessera dimensions c. 2×2 cm) and sloped slightly from north to south. A probe excavated in the surface (L116) showed that the mosaic was set on a bedding of plaster and industrial debris of white tesserae (Fig. 3) that was placed atop a foundation of small stones (thickness 0.2 m); tamped soil was excavated beneath these two layers.
The two basins were exposed adjacent to the southern wall (W102). The eastern basin (L114; diam. 0.4 m, depth 0.6 m) was coated with gray plaster that was applied in at least two phases. Its floor, consisting of plaster applied to a foundation of small stones, was only partially preserved. The western basin (L113; diam. c. 0.4 m, depth c. 0.3 m) was a dark ceramic krater (Figs. 4:9, 5) of a type characteristic of the Umayyad–Early Abbasid periods (seventh–eighth centuries CE). It was embedded into the floor, within a gray plaster foundation, replete with olive pips and small stones that were meant improve its attachment to the floor.
A robber trench of an internal partition wall of the installation (W119) was identified west of the surface. The wall separated the eastern surface from another secondary surface that was only partly exposed. Both surfaces sloped similarly from north to south (Fig. 6).
The surfaces were bounded on the north by W108 (length 4 m, width 0.65 m) built of medium and large basalt fieldstones. Wall 110 (width 0.65 m) enclosed the installations from the west. A built corner (height c. 1.45 m) was preserved at the meeting point of the two walls, which were founded on top of the bedrock. Gray plaster survived on some of the stones, and in places where it had fallen, one could see vertical incising that was meant to improve the adhesion of the plaster to the stones. Wall 102 (width 0.65 m), built of two rows of medium and large basalt fieldstones with a fill core was south wall of Surface 104. The southern part of the wall was coated with gray plaster and it was excavated to a depth of two courses (L115).
A wall (W118), aligned north–south and parallel to W110 wall of Surface 104, was exposed on the natural slope of the hill. East of it were two short perpendicular retaining walls founded on the bedrock (L111). The northern retaining wall (W109) continued until the meeting point of Walls 108 and 110; the southern wall (not numbered in the plan) was partly excavated. The walls were built of medium and large fieldstones that were meant to reinforce the installation and prevent its collapse. Fill located north of the installation was excavated down to the level of the mosaic industrial debris (L105; thickness c. 10–20 cm), along the natural inclination of the slope from west to east. This level abutted W108 of the winepress and therefore dates to the period when the winepress was used (Fig. 7). A wall (W103; width 1.3 m) situated above Level 105, survived three courses high and was built of medium and large ashlars that were covered with a layer of later collapse. The wall postdates the winepress, yet it is impossible to determine its date and purpose.
The animal bones recovered from the excavation include those of a rooster and cow from the surface level (L100) and bones of a donkey and sheep from the soil accumulations above the level of mosaic industrial debris north of the winepress (L105).
The ceramic finds are meager and include potsherds from the Persian period, among them a slipped bowl (Fig. 4:1) and a mortarium (Fig. 4:2) that were found on the bedrock. On the surface and in the accumulations alongside the installation were jars from the Roman period (Fig. 4:3, 4), imported LRC bowls from the Byzantine period (Fig. 4:5, 6), a fry pan (Fig. 4:7) and a handmade krater (Fig. 4:8). The complete krater used as a basin (L113, see above) is made of dark gray clay and decorated with a wavy design below the rim (Figs. 4:9, 5). Kraters of this type date to the Umayyad–Early Abbasid period (seventh–eighth centuries CE). Another fragment of a similar krater made of dark clay (Fig. 4:10) was found in the accumulations east of the installation. A jar from the Abbasid period (Fig. 4:11) was found in the foundation layer north of the installation and a juglet dating to the Early Islamic period (Fig. 4:12) was recovered from the accumulations east of the installation.
A complex winepress (Fig. 8) that was operated in the Umayyad and Abbasid periods was exposed in the excavation. Another similar complex winepress was discovered at Tamra in 2005 (HA-ESI 123). It seems that growing grapes and wine production were widespread in this period at the site and in its surroundings, as opposed to the common belief that the wine industry was in decline at this time (Ayalon 1997). These finds are consistent with the archaeological and epigraphic evidence about the life of the Christian community that consumed wine and prospered at the site in the Early Islamic period (Di Segni and Tepper 2004). Since the Christian population also continued to consume wine under Muslim rule, it seems that the excavation finds contribute to identifying sites whose populations did not adhere to Islamic law at the beginning of the Early Islamic period in Israel.