In July 2020, a trial excavation was conducted along the road leading to ‘Atlit Industrial Zone (Permit No. A-8795; map ref. 194782–827/733877–4137; Fig. 1). The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by Hof Ha-Karmel Regional Council, was directed by C. Segal, with the assistance of Y. Amrani and Z. Lotan (administration), I. Jonish (field photography and photogrammetry), M. Abu (plans), Y. Tepper (scientific guidance), D. Kirzner (preliminary probes), R. Khamisy (consultation), L. Talmi, K. Sa‘id and laborers from Kafr Sha‘ab.
The excavation took place along a narrow strip of land (Fig. 2) between the railway tracks and the salt ponds, to the west of the western kurkar ridge. Two winepresses, cupmarks and rock-hewn industrial installations were uncovered. The local terrain consists of kurkar rock overlain by a thin layer of sand.
Previous excavations in the vicinity revealed the remains of a farm from the Persian and Hellenistic periods, ancient stone quarries—some dating from the Byzantine and/or Crusader periods—installations, and a road (‘Ad 2000; Sari 2010; Kirzner 2011; Davidov 2019; Emmanuilov 2019; Permit No. A-7439). A crusader fortress is located on a peninsula to the northeast of the current site (Johns and Pringle 2019).
A rock-hewn surface (L206) and five round or oval depressions hewn in bedrock (L202, L203, L205, L207, L208; Fig. 3) were discovered in the northern part of the excavation. A rock-hewn winepress to their south (Fig. 4) consisted of a square treading floor (L211), from which a hewn channel (L213) with a gutter at its end (Fig. 5) led into a rectangular collecting vat (L212). The hewn gutter at the entrance to the collecting vat is typical of winepresses from the Crusader period and most probably dates the winepress to this period (Khamisy 2020). A simple winepress hewn to the south of this winepress comprised a rounded treading floor (L103; Fig. 6) and a collecting vat (L102) with a small sump (L104) at the bottom. A hewn cupmark (L106; Fig. 7) was discovered at the southernmost end of the excavation.
As no pottery was retrieved from the excavation, the date of most of the installations remains unknown. The winepress, dated according to its gutter to the Crusader period, adds to our understanding of the wine industry near the Crusader fortress.
‘Ad U. 2000. ‘Atlit. HA-ESI 112:119*.
Davidov S. 2019. ‘Atlit, Ridge Compound. HA-ESI 131.
Johns C.N. and Pringle D. 2019. Pilgrims’ Castle (‘Atlit), David’s Tower (Jerusalem) and Qal ‘at ar-Rabad (‘Ajlun): Three Middle Eastern Castles from the Time of the Crusades. London.
Khamisy R.G. 2020. Frankish Viticulture, Wine Presses, and Wine Production in the Levant: New Evidence from Castellum Regis (Miʿilyā). PEQ 153/3:191–221.