JERUSALEM, Israel - Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists uncovered a 1,400-year-old wine press, likely used to export its product to Egypt and Europe.
The team of IAA archaeologists unearthed the exceptionally large octagonal press, which measures 21 feet by 54 feet, in southern Israel.
"This is a complex wine press," said the excavation's lead archaeologist, Uzi Ad, with "a very high level of technology for this period, which was acquired and improved on from generation to generation."
Archaeologists believe the unusually large press, located in the agricultural Nahal Soreq region, exported most of its wine.
In the sixth-seventh centuries, Israel was under the rule of the Byzantine Empire.
A similar wine press was discovered about 10 miles away, just north of the coast city of Ashkelon. The shape of the press, Ad said, had more to do with aesthetics than function, as sediment would more easily collect in the corners of the octagonal shaped vat.
Nahal Soreq Regional Council head Eli Eskozido said the site would be preserved and open to the public.
The wine press is located in an area that has been allocated as farmland for a new community being built by evacuees from the government's 2005 pullout from the Gaza Strip.