Two wine presses that date back some 1,500 years were discovered in the southern Israeli city of Netivot.

As part of standard preparations for the construction of a new residential neighborhood, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) conducted digs outside the city. Youths from Netivot and Ashkelon were encouraged to volunteer on the project along with future IDF recruits who are spending a year performing community service before they enlist in the army’s Nahal Brigade.

The excavation unearthed the remains of a village dating back to the 6th and 7th centuries C.E., when the Byzantine period gave way to Islam. The findings included a workshop, buildings, and two wine presses. Ilan Peretz, who supervised the dig for the IAA, said that “one of the most impressive finds of [this] excavation is a sophisticated wine press that was used to mass-produce wine. First, the grapes were trampled. Then the juice was funneled into canals, which led to a pit that was used to let the sediment settle. From there, the wine was piped into vats lined with stone and marble, where it would ferment until it was put into clay bottles called ‘Gaza jugs.’ Hundreds of those have been found all over the site.”

“The site was dated based on a cross etched into seashells that adorned one of the vats of the wine press,” added Peretz.