In November 2015, a salvage excavation was conducted in the Newe Ya‘aqov Forest in Jerusalem (Permit No. A-7431; map ref. 223512–24/639183–95; Fig. 1), in the wake of an illicit excavation. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by A. Wiegmann (field photography), with the assistance of M. Kahan (surveying and drafting) and N. Zak (plans).
The treading floor (L100; 2.9 × 3.8 m, height of walls 0.3–0.7 m; Fig. 2, 3) was rectangular. A niche (0.30 × 0.35 m, depth 0.15 m) was hewn close to the center of its western wall for securing a wooden beam that was used to press grapes or olives inside of mats or baskets. A through-hole (diam. 5 cm, length 0.2 m; Fig. 4) that led to the settling pit (L101; 0.8 × 0.9 m, depth 1.2 m) was noted near the bottom in the northeastern corner of the treading floor. A small circular sump (diam. 0.15 m, depth 0.1 m) was located in the settling pit’s floor, near its southeastern corner. A hewn channel (length 0.35 m, width 0.12–0.25 m, depth 5 cm) linked the settling pit with the collecting vat (L102; 0.95 × 1.90 m, depth 1.45 m), which was connected via a second channel with the treading floor. A triangular step (length 0.3 m, max. width 0.55 m, height 0.48 m) was set in the northeastern corner of the collecting vat, at a depth of 0.3 m; below it was another step (length 0.6 m) that extended across the entire width of the vat. A narrow depression (length 0.15 m, depth 0.1 m) extended along the entire southern wall at the bottom of the vat. The floor of the vat and the bottom step were coated with dark gray plaster (max. thickness 3 cm). A cupmark (L103; diam. 0.3 m, depth 0.15 m), treated with a similar layer of plaster, was situated above the southwestern corner of the collecting vat.
Installations equipped with a treading floor that has a niche in one of its walls are characteristic of the agricultural hinterland of Jerusalem in the Roman and Byzantine periods; these were used for producing wine or olive oil (Gibson and Edelstein 1995
:147–149). It is possible that the direct connection of the treading floor to both the settling pit and the collecting vat is indicative of two methods of production that involved either using or not using the settling pit. The settling pit may have been utilized for producing wine, but was blocked off from the treading floor when olive oil was pressed in the installation; thus, the oil flowed straight into the collecting vat. Most researchers, however, believe that such installations were used solely for producing wine.
Gibson S. 1982. Archaeological Survey in Northeast Jerusalem. HA
Gibson S. and Edelstein G. 1985. Investigating Jerusalem’s Rural Landscape. Levant 17:139–155.