TEL AVIV – An ancient farmhouse dating back 2,700 years has been unearthed in Israel on the same site as a Byzantine monastery, the Daily Mail reported.
The monastery is considerably younger than the farmstead, which is thought to have been built just after the Assyrian conquest of Israel that led Israel’s tribes to be scattered throughout the empire.
Amit Shadman, who led the excavation, notes that the site consists of 24 rooms surrounding a central courtyard. The farmhouse measures 98 feet by 164 feet and has walls that reach 6.5 feet in height. Its original purpose and the identity of its builders are not known.
Shadman cited the discovery of rock-hewn oil presses used in the production of olive oil. The excavations further revealed a silo in the courtyard meant to protect grain.
“It seems carbohydrates were as popular then as now, and the growing and processing of grain were fairly widespread in the rural-agricultural region,” said Shadman.
Discoveries in a field in the area included several millstones that would have been used to grind grain into flour.
Two silver coins from the fourth century BC that bear the images of the goddess Athena and the Athenian owl were found at the farmhouse. These indicate the presence of ancient Greeks, or the possibility that trade was conducted with the Greek empire.
Shadman asserts that the farmstead operated for centuries until the region was abandoned in the Hellenistic period following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE.
In the fifth century BCE Christians arrived in the area and built remarkable churches and monasteries.
A monastery dating to the Byzantine period some 1,500 years ago was recently discovered on one of the hills in the area. The remains of a church, residential quarters, and stables were found, but the most impressive discovery was that of colorful mosaic floors decorating the entrance to the monastery.