Four squares (110 sq m) were opened and part of a complex industrial winepress from the Byzantine period (fifth–sixth centuries CE; Fig. 2) was exposed. The western part of the excavation area was disturbed by construction, and the eastern part was damaged by the digging of trenches. Consequently, a complete plan of the winepress could not be drawn, nor was it possible to determine with certainty the full extent of its area. The exposed elements of the winepress included a section of the treading floor (L115), a rectangular settling/distribution vat (L107) and two circular collecting vats (L108, L109), surrounded by a work surface (L111). The treading floor and work surfaces were paved with mosaic that included a colorful medallion.
To construct the winepress in the sandy region of Lod, it was necessary to prepare a stable foundation for the mosaic surfaces and this was exposed where the mosaic pavement of Treading Floor 115 did not survive (Fig. 2: Section 3-3). The foundation consisted of a layer of wadi pebbles (L114; 0.10 × 0.15; Fig. 3) deposited on top of the leveled sand; overlaying it were limestone fieldstones bonded with lime-based mortar (L113) and this was covered with a layer of mortar in which the white tesserae were embedded (20–25 tesserae per sq dm).
A small segment of Treading Floor 115 was preserved along the western fringes of the excavation area, around the stone that anchored the screw base (Fig. 4); the tesserae were rectangular and especially large (two stones per sq dm). The treading floor was delimited on the south by a wall that was only partially preserved (W1; preserved length 2.1 m) and only two stones survived from the wall (W3) that separated it from Work Surface 111. All that was preserved of the pressing installation was the stone that secured the screw base, which was embedded in the treading floor; the stone was a round limestone (diam. 1.3 m) with a square recess (depth 0.5 m) in its center and a narrow slot hewn along its bottom western side, which was used to anchor the screw. At the bottom of the eastern side of the anchoring stone was a hewn perforated hole that led to a pipe (preserved length 2 m; Fig. 4) of terra-cotta sections (diam. 0.1 m, length per section 0.35 m; see Fig. 2: Section 2-2). The must flowed through the pipe to the Settling/Distribution Pit 107 (1.2 × 1.3 m) that was paved with mosaic. Two terra-cotta pipes were secured at the bottom of the eastern part of the pit’s northern and southern sides; these conveyed the liquid to the two collecting vats (Fig. 2: Section 4-4).
Due to safety considerations only the southern collecting vat (L108; diam. 2.8 m, depth c. 1.5 m; see Fig. 3) was completely excavated. The sides of the vats were lined with thick pinkish hydraulic plaster and the bottom of Vat 108 was paved with a mosaic (Fig. 5). A sump (upper diam. 1.05 m, bottom diam. 0.3 m, depth 0.5 m; see Fig. 2: Sections 2-2, 4-4) was installed in the middle of its floor. The sides of the sump were lined with mosaic and its bottom was coated with plaster. It seems that the dimensions of the northern vat (L109) were identical to those of Vat 108.
Three of the walls (W3–W5) that enclosed the mosaic floor of Work Surface 111 (width 5.7 m, presumed length c. 9 m; see Fig. 3) were discovered. The northern wall was not exposed, although it is presumed that the outline of the winepress was fairly symmetric. Large tesserae identical to those installed around the anchoring stone of the screw base were placed along the walls.
A colorful medallion (diam. c. 1.5 m; Fig. 6) was incorporated in the mosaic floor of Work Surface 111, east of Vat 10. It was composed of small tesserae (25 stones per sq dm). The northern part of the medallion was damaged during the digging of a drainage channel. The frame around the medallion consisted of six rows of different colors: the outer row was paved with black tesserae; the next two rows were yellow tesserae, followed by two rows paved in shades of red and an inner frame of blue tesserae. The center of the medallion has a red, brown and yellow depiction of a jar, standing on a rectangular base, with several tendrils in light and dark green emerging from its mouth. The tendrils are of a plant that has a single main leaf, perhaps ivy, which was used in the preparation of wine.
A coin of Mauricius that was struck in Cyzikos in 589/590 CE (IAA 92881; Fig. 7), which was found inside the mosaic foundation of Work Surface 111, and the few potsherds, including jars (Fig. 8:4, 5) and a jug (Fig. 8:6), which were found in the fill above the floors and in the vicinity of the winepress, indicate that the construction of the winepress can apparently be dated to the Late Byzantine period. The potsherds found in the bottom of Collecting Vat 108 were mostly jar fragments (Fig. 8:7–9), which suggest that the winepress ceased to be used in the Umayyad period. Also found in the fill around the winepress were fragments of kraters dating to Iron Age IIA (Fig. 8:1–3), which are indicative of activity in the region during this period; this evidence is also in keeping with the excavation findings of Yannai and Marder (see Fig. 1:1).
The exposed complex industrial winepress was part of a developed wine industry in the Late Byzantine period, which is known from other excavations in the country (e.g., Bet Dagan; see HA-ESI 20:59*–60*). The colorful medallion incorporated in the surface mosaic is unique and alludes to the wealth of the winepress’ owners and the prosperity of the wine industry in the region of Lod. The winepress ceased to be used in the Early Islamic period, when the export markets were closed to the growers and the consumption of wine was banned by Islamic rule.