In March 1961, a salvage excavation was conducted at Moshav Yanuv (Permit No. &-2/1961; map. ref. 19560/69060; Fig. 1) prior to construction of a school. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Department, was directed by P. Berger with the assistance of S. Moskovitz (surveying). R. Bar-Nathan and E. Yannai processed the excavation material and submitted it for final publication.
The site is situated on a very moderate south-facing slope of a hamra hill overlaid with a sand dune not far from Nahal Alexander; it had never been previously excavated. The excavation unearthed the remains of a winepress, and all the remains were dated to the Byzantine period (sixth century CE), but the finds were neither documented nor preserved. The remains were removed after the excavation and no longer exist.
The upper parts of the winepress had been destroyed and eroded away, but its lower part was well preserved (Fig. 2). Its treading floor (c. 4.6 × 6.4 m; Fig. 2: Section 1–1) was paved with small fieldstones embedded in gray plaster, probably the bedding for a plaster or mosaic floor. The eastern part of the floor was fully preserved, but its western part was destroyed and eroded away; The length of the floor was estimated based on a single kurkar stone found in situ. The treading floor was found at surface level, and it is thus unclear whether it was surrounded by a built or hewn wall, and to what height did such a wall rise. To the west of the treading floor were two vats (Fig. 3). The southern vat was rectangular (0.8 × 1.8 m; depth 1.3 m; Figs. 2: Sections 2–2, 3–3; 4), coated with gray plaster and had a narrow hewn step (height 0.5 m) that led down to its floor. To its north was a round collecting vat (diam. 2.8 m, depth 1.3 m; Figs 2: Sections 1–1, 2–2; 5), with a central sump (diam. 0.4 m, depth 0.4 m) in its floor and two hewn steps along its northern wall. The floors of the vat and the sump were paved with a coarse mosaic floor consisting of small stones. The walls of the vat and the sump as well as the steps were coated with gray plaster. No evidence was found for the method by which the must flowed from the treading floor to the vats, nor for any connection between the two vats, probably due to the partial preservation of the winepress. Thus, the winepress operated either by channeling the must from the treading floor to the rectangular vat for filtration and cleaning, and from there to the round collecting vat, or by channeling it directly to both vats.
Half of a lower pressing stone of an olive oil screw press was discovered on the surface near the winepress, but its exact location was not document and its association with the excavated winepress is unknown. Nevertheless, it reveals that olive oil was also processed in the area.
The winepress at Yanuv fits in well with evidence of industrial activity in the eastern part of the lower drainage basin of Nahal Alexander. Three Byzantine-period sites are known in the area: Tel Shevah, 2 km east of the winepress at Yanuv (Porath, Dar and Appelbaum 1985:249–250); Khirbat Birkat Umm el-Idham, 1.5 km north of the winepress at Yanuv (Porath, Dar and Appelbaum 1985:246); and Khirbat Umm Sûr, to the north of Tel Zoran and 2.6 km west of the winepress at Yanuv (Bouchenino 2008; Mahajna 2009; Eshed 2014). A treading floor of an industrial installation was found at the foot of Tel Shevah (Yannai 2000), and a winepress and additional installations were unearthed east of Khirbat Birkat Umm el-Idham (Bouchenino 2007; Masarwa 2009; Elisha 2013). It thus seems that the winepress uncovered at Yanuv was part of the wine industry that flourished in the Sharon at the end of the Byzantine period (Ayalon 1997).
Ayalon, E. 1997. The End of the Ancient Wine Production in the Central Coastal Plain. In Y. Friedman, Z. Safrai and J. Schwartz eds. Hikrei Eretz: Studies in the History of the Land of Israel. Ramat Gan. Pp. 149–166 (Hebrew).
Bouchenino E. 2007. Khirbat Birkat Umm el-’Idham. HA-ESI 119.
Elisha Y. 2013. Khirbat Birkat Umm el-’Idham. HA-ESI 125.
Masarwa D. 2009. Khirbat Birkat Umm el-’Idham. HA-ESI 121.
Porath Y., Dar S. and Appelbaum S. 1985. Qadmoniyot Emeq Hefer. Tel Aviv (Hebrew).
Yannai E. 2000. Tel Shevah. ESI 20:41*.