In January 2020, a salvage excavation was conducted c. 1 km southeast of Horbat Husham (Permit No. A-8676; map ref. 196611/625853; Fig. 1), prior to widening a road. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by the Netivei Israel National Transport Infrastructure Company, was conducted by N. Benenstein, with the assistance of N. Nehama (administration), E. Marco (surveying), S. Halevi (photography and photogrammetry), O. Rose (plan and photogrammetry) and A. Shadman and Y. Zelinger (scientific consultation).
A simple rock-hewn winepress (Figs. 2, 3), which probably dates from the Early Roman period, was unearthed on a slope. It was first documented, along with terrace walls and agricultural installations, in a survey and in trial trenches conducted prior to the current excavation. Previous excavations at H
usham have uncovered many agricultural installations, ritual baths, and the remains of a settlement dating from the late Hellenistic period to the First Jewish Revolt and from the Roman and Byzantine periods (Zissu 1999; Klein and Zissu 2015;
Lisence No. B-463)
The winepress contains a treading floor (L103; 2.8 × 3.3 m, depth c. 5 cm) and a collecting vat (L102; 1.0 × 1.5 m, depth c. 1.3 m; Fig. 4), connected by a poorly preserved channel (L104; length c. 0.3 m, width 0.4 m, depth c. 0.2 m). A fine layer of grayish plaster was discovered in the northern corner of the collecting vat. Two small, rounded pits (L105—0.2 × 0.3 m; L106—diam. c. 0.4 m) hewn at the bottom of the vat were poorly preserved, and their depth is unknown. The collecting vat was filled with soil and small and medium-sized stones that got swept down the slope. A rectangular area discovered to the west of the treading floor’s western corner, where a large stone had been quarried (Fig. 5), is probably part of an ancient quarry.
The winepress yielded meager and worn potsherds that are non-diagnostic. Based on its plan and the agricultural installations found nearby, the winepress can be dated to the Early Roman period, and it was probably part of Horbat Husham’s agricultural hinterland. It provides further evidence of a thriving economy and flourishing settlements in the region, which were brought to an abrupt end by the Bar Kokhba Revolt in the first half of the second century CE.
Zissu B. 1999. Horbat Hushsham. HA-ESI 109:81*.
Klein E. and Zissu B. 2015. Horbat Husham. HA-ESI 127.