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Kibbutz harvests previously extinct dates eaten in Judea 2000 years ago

Kibbutz harvests previously extinct dates eaten in Judea 2000 years ago

ROSSELLA TERCATIN


Last year, one of the palms bore fruit for the first time, and now the production has increased with some of it being sold to visitors.

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Dates from palm tree grown from 2,000 year old see at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. /  (photo credit: Marcos Shonholtz)

Researchers recently harvested the second crop of dates grown on palm trees from 2,000-year-old seeds retrieved from archaeological excavations in the region, the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies in Kibbutz Ketura said Monday.

After one of the trees bore fruit for the first time last September, this year’s harvest has increased. Some of the dates will be available for visitors to buy and taste a staple of the ancient Judeans’ diet.

The special fruits resemble modern species of dates and have a very sweet taste, similar to honey, according to people who have tasted them.

The ancient palm grove at Ketura has a few trees. The most senior, which researchers have named Methuselah – the oldest man who ever lived, according to the Bible – was planted in 2005 from a seed found in Masada in the 1960s during excavations led by legendary Israeli archaeologist Yigal Yadin.

Over the following years, the researchers decided to replicate the experiment, planting another 32 seeds from various excavations. About six of them eventually germinated, mostly from Masada or Qumran, another iconic site, where the world renowned Dead Sea Scrolls were unearthed.
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Dates from palm tree grown from 2,000 year old see at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. (credit: Marcos Shonholtz)

While Methuselah was found to be a male tree, some of the new palms turned out to be female, allowing pollination.

“It’s very exciting to taste the dates and see such a large and significant amount of fruit because we had no guarantees that we would get a fruit-bearing female tree,” said Dr. Elaine Solowey, director of the Arava Institute’s Center for Sustainable Agriculture, who leads the project together with Dr. Sarah Sallon, director of the Louis L. Borick Natural Medicine Research Center of Hadassah-University Medical Center.

“It looks like a miracle on several levels,” she said. “Seeds from archaeological digs sprouted successfully, and against all odds, female trees sprouted among them. We are excited to revive an ancient variety of dates.”


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Largest wine factory in the world from Byzantine period unearthed in Yavne

Largest wine factory in the world from Byzantine period unearthed in Yavne

ROSSELLA TERCATIN


The sophisticated facility was probably able to produce as many as two million liters of wine per year.
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Excavation by the Israel Antiquities Authority at Yavne – Aerial view / (photo credit: Assaf Peretz/Israel Antiquities Authority)

A sophisticated wine production facility, the largest from the Byzantine period ever found in the world, was unearthed in Yavne, the Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced Monday.

The factory was used to produce the legendary regional wine, known as Gaza or Ashkelon wine after the ports from where it was exported all over the Mediterranean. It included five impressive wine presses, large treading floors where the grapes were crushed, two huge octagonal vats, storage rooms and kilns to produce jars to conserve the wine.

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The facility is said to have produced as much as two million liters of wine annually.

Yavne is located in central Israel and was an important city some 1,500 years ago was, according to IAA archaeologist Dr. Jon Seligman, co-director of excavation with Dr. Elie Haddad and Liat Nadav-Ziv.

From right to left: Dr. Elie Hadad, Liat Nadav-Ziv – Yavne Excavation Directors; Eli Escozido – Director of the Israel Antiquities Authority; Diego Barkan – Tel Aviv District Archaeologist, and Dr. Jon Seligman – Yavne Excavation Director. (credit: YANIV BERMAN/ISRAELI ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY)

“Yavne was important enough to be put in a map from the period with Jerusalem, featuring three large churches,” he said. “First and foremost, it was a Christian town. But we also know that there were populations of Jews and Samaritans living there during the same time period. It had a bishop. It was located in what at the time was on a major road, called the sea highway, which went from north to south, and on its junction with the Sorek River.”

The wine factory’s remains were first uncovered during a salvage excavation prior to the construction of a new residential and commercial neighborhood. In Israel, all development projects must be accompanied by such excavations.

“We have been exposing an industrial area of ancient Yavne,” Seligman said. “We found remains of other industries, for example, producing glass and metal. We also found remains from other periods, such as a house from the ninth century and some other buildings from the interim period between the Byzantine and Islamic periods.”

Excavation directors, from right to left: Dr. Jon Seligman, Liat Nadav-Ziv and Dr. Elie Hadad. (credit: YANIV BERMAN/ISRAELI ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY)

In addition, the remains of another wine press was uncovered, dating back some 2,300 years ago, during the Persian period, testifying to the city’s long tradition in wine production, as stated in the Mishna, which mentions a vineyard of Yavne.

After the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans in 70 CE, Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai moved the Sanhedrin, the supreme court and legislative body in all matters of Halacha, to Yavne.

So far, the archaeologists have not excavated the area where the ancient city center was located, and they have not uncovered the remains of the churches, Seligman said.

“We did find some traces of their presence, such as pieces of marbles and columns,” he said.

The wine produced in Yavne was very well known and prestigious, Seligman said.

“It was a light, white wine,” he said. “We have found many wine presses in Israel, but what is unique here is that we are talking about a cluster of five huge ones, especially beautiful in their architecture.”

In addition, the archaeologists uncovered the remains of thousands of jars to store, age and export the wine, Seligman said.

“They have a specific and very recognizable shape,” he said. “The same jars were found in many places around the region, including Egypt, and we know that they were used for exporting the wine.”


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Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets Russian President Vladimir Putin

Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets Russian President Vladimir Putin


WION


Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time today for talks focusing on iran and other regional security issues. The two leaders met at russia’s black sea resort in Sochi.

 


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2,000-year-old quarry found to supply stones for ancient Jerusalem

2,000-year-old quarry found to supply stones for ancient Jerusalem

ROSSELLA TERCATIN


Archaeologists uncover the site in the hi-tech hub of Har Hotzvim, the Hebrew name for ‘Quarrymen’s Hill.’

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Second Temple Period quarry uncovered in Jerusalem at Har Hotzvim, September 2021. / (photo credit: SHAI HALEVI / ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY)

Har Hotzvim, one of Jerusalem’s main hi-tech hubs, owes its name, which in Hebrew means “Quarrymen’s Hill,” to a much more ancient industrial activity: It is where archaeologists from the Antiquities Authority have uncovered a quarry dating back some 2,000 years, the IAA revealed Sunday.

The quarry was discovered during a salvage excavation before a new building project was set to begin. According to law, a salvage excavation must accompany all construction projects.

“The large-scale building projects in ancient Jerusalem, such as the Temple Mount, required a vast amount of building materials and the ability to organize and coordinate the quarrying and transportation of thousands of building blocks to the ancient city,” IAA excavation director Moran Hagbi said.
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THE SECOND Temple, model in the Israel Museum, 2008. (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

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“Building blocks in various stages of spadework were discovered in the quarry,” he said. “For example, we uncovered large, cubical blocks of stone about to be detached from the bedrock, prior to being loaded and transported to the ancient city.”

The site has only been partially uncovered. Researchers believe it was two or three times larger than the 600 sq.m. currently exposed.

“For us as archaeologists, this quarry presents a golden opportunity,” Hagbi said. “Because some of the stones were left in situ in this way, we can copy ancient technologies and experiment with them to recreate the processes by which the building stones were quarried.”

To better understand how ancient workers operated, the researchers plan to reproduce tools and techniques known to have been used at the time to test their efficacy.

During the Second Temple period, magnificent construction projects were carried out in Jerusalem. In the first century BCE and up to the destruction of the city at the hands of the Romans, Jerusalem underwent great changes.

The Temple was expanded, and several monumental buildings and other infrastructure were erected. All this work required a lot of building materials.

“In a symbolic way, Jerusalem’s current development boom presents us with an opportunity to excavate and research the great building projects in ancient Jerusalem,” IAA general director Eli Eskozido said. “Before any development project begins in Jerusalem, our archaeologists are called upon to excavate and examine any ancient finds for the sake of future generations.”


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How much alcohol did British soldiers drink while stationed in Israel during WWI?

How much alcohol did British soldiers drink while stationed in Israel during WWI?

JERUSALEM POST STAFF


Hundreds of glass alcohol bottles from a World War I British army camp were uncovered in an archeological dig near Ramle, suggesting that the British soldiers loved their booze.
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A bottle of Gordon’s Dry Gin found a the site of the archeological dig near Ramle /  (photo credit: IAA)

Hundreds of glass alcohol bottles from a World War I British army camp were uncovered in an archeological dig near Ramle, providing a glimpse into the lives of the soldiers during their campaign against Ottoman forces in 1917.

The bottles were found in a building that dates back to the Ottoman Empire but was used by British forces, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) Excavation Director Ron Toueg.

A trash pit was found adjacent to the building, and provided a glimpse into the daily lives of the British troops.

Nearly 70% of the waste that was uncovered was glass bottles, which had contained European wine, beer, gin and whiskey. The large amount of alcohol suggests that the soldiers drank extensively, perhaps out of boredom or as a way to cope with the arduous and sometimes terrible experiences of war.

“On November 15, 1917, the Egyptian Expeditionary Force under the command of General Allenby conquered the area around the towns of Lod and Ramle,” explained Sherri Mark, architect, conservator and researcher of the British army in Palestine, in a video uploaded by the IAA.

“Before occupying Jerusalem, the army encamped in the area where the archaeological excavation took place: the headquarters at Bir Salam – Ramle Camp and Sarafand Camp. The Army was based there for about nine months until a decision was made to continue the country’s conquest,” she explained.

Hundreds of bottles of alcohol were found at the archealogical dig at the WWI British encampment near Ramle (credit: IAA)

Some of the findings included parts of uniforms, such as buttons and belts, as well as the tip of a British officer’s swagger stick, which they liked to carry under their armpits. The swagger stick is the first if its kind found in Israeli excavations.

The most prevalent finding, however, was alcohol.


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