YAVNE, Israel – Israeli archaeologists said on Monday that they have unearthed a massive ancient brewing complex dating back nearly 1,500 years.
The complex discovered in the central city of Yavne includes five wine presses, warehouses, furnaces for the production of clay storage vessels, and thousands of pieces and jars, he said.
Israel’s Antiquities Authority said the discovery suggests that Yavan was a wine-making powerhouse during the Byzantine period. Researchers estimate that the facility could produce about 2 million liters of wine a year.
One of the directors of the excavation, John Seligman, said the wine made in the area was known as “Gaza” wine and was exported throughout the region. Researchers believe that the Yavne location was the main production facility for the label.
“It was a prestige wine, a light white wine, and it was carried to many countries around the Mediterranean,” he said, including Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and possibly southern Italy.
Seligman said that in ancient times wine was not only an important export and a source of pleasure. “Plus, it was a major source of nutrition and it was a safe drink because the water was often contaminated, so they could drink alcohol safely,” he said.
The antiquities authority said the complex was uncovered over the past two years during excavations as part of the development of Yavne, a city located south of Tel Aviv.