JERUSALEM – An ancient wine press that likely dates from Roman or Byzantine times was unearthed on the grounds of an obsolete army base in Jerusalem, the Times of Israel reported.
The Israel Antiques Authority (IAA) excavated the former Schneller base and discovered the 1,600-year-old wine press along with a white mosaic surface surrounding a pit that was part of the press, which may have been owned by the residents of a nearby manor.
Eight cells around the press were used to store grapes and possibly to blend wine, the IAA said.
“Once again, Jerusalem demonstrates that wherever one turns over a stone, ancient artifacts will be found related to the city’s glorious past,” said archaeologist Alex Wiegmann, the IAA’s excavation director. “The archaeological finds discovered here help paint a living, vibrant, and dynamic picture of Jerusalem as it was in ancient times up until the modern era.”
Ruins of an ancient bathhouse were also discovered, including terra cotta pipes used to heat the bathing facility. The IAA also found clay bricks stamped with the title of the Tenth Roman Legion, one of the four legions that took part in the siege and destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE.
Six months prior, the remains of a Jewish community were discovered at the Schneller site. The community likely dates back to the time of Jesus.
The site was an orphanage until World War II. Its German occupants were expelled during the British Mandate and it was turned into a military base that was subsequently taken over by the Haganah, Israel’s pre-state paramilitary organization, in 1948.
It later became an IDF military base until it was closed in 2008.
The site is now earmarked for the construction of residential buildings.