Unique 1,300 year old olive oil factory unearthed in Tel Aviv suburb
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Unique 1,300 year old olive oil factory unearthed in Tel Aviv suburb

Antiquities Authority rescues Byzantine-era site from being paved over in Hod Hasharon

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

A 1,300 year old olive press found near Hod Hasharon. (photo credit: Hagit Turga courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority/Flash90)
A 1,300 year old olive press found near Hod Hasharon. (photo credit: Hagit Turga courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority/Flash90)

An exceptional 1,300-year-old olive oil factory was unearthed Tuesday during excavations in the Tel Aviv suburb of Hod Hasharon. The Israel Antiquities Authority’s find, dated to the late Byzantine or early Muslim period, narrowly escaped being paved over by a planned roadway.

Excavators found a pressing floor for olives, a piping system, trenches, and cisterns that drained and stored the fresh olive oil. Stone weights used for pressing sacks of olives were found beside the ruins. By the archaeologists’ estimations, the site was an industrial concern and not private.

Archaeologist Amit Ram with the Israel Antiquities Authority told Maariv that the olive press was carved out of older building stones that were sunk into the earth.

The Hod Hasharon olive press is an exceptional find because most olive presses are typically hewn out of the living rock already in the place, he said. In this case, however, the soft, red earth demanded that a solid foundation be constructed, so mason-worked blocks were imported to build the press.

City authorities were investigating the possibility of diverting the planned roadway to make room for a small archaeological park centered around the site.

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