The white wine of Gaza, a reputed brand from the Byzantine period, was one of the most demanded in Turkey and Europe in the 6th and 7th centuries, as shown by the largest winery in the world of this time found in the Israeli city of Yavne.
“Mainly (they exported) to Turkey, which was Byzantine, of course to Rome, Europe, and even London,” summarizes the Israeli archaeologist, Hagit Torge, from this industrial area, today a site, which remained active until the early Islamic period, when alcohol consumption was prohibited.
225 square meters of warehouse discovered when building a road
The excavation, which began two years ago for the construction of a road, has unearthed 225 square meters of a wine complex by surprise, from which some 12,000 amphorae are exported annually.
They were transferred by carriages to the then active commercial ports of Gaza, today Palestinian territory, and Ashkelon, today an Israeli city, and were distributed by boat through the Mediterranean basin.
They were the broths of the Holy Land, white and sweet as they were in demand then, Torge details, and they were produced in dams dug into the earth and after fermentation, at different levels of the soil, they were stored in tanks.
Produced wine in commercial quantities
“We were surprised to discover here a sophisticated factory, which was used to produce wine in commercial quantities. In addition, the decorative shell-shaped niches, which adorned the presses, indicate the great wealth of the owners,” explained the directors of the excavation of the Israel Antiquities Authority (AAI).
The AAI publicly presented the site on Monday, in which dams from the Persian period, some 2,300 years ago, have been found, which would indicate a more modest primary winery and therefore the existence of a production continues “for many centuries.”
“A calculation of the production capacity of these presses shows that each year approximately two million liters of wine were sold, although it must be remembered that the entire process was carried out manually,” added the AAI team.
The AAI describes this area “as the main production center of this prestigious wine”, since until now, there is knowledge of other places where the wine was produced in the southern coastal plain, but not in commercial quantities.