Talmud-era winepress, mosaic unearthed in Jewish village condemned by Jesus
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Talmud-era winepress, mosaic unearthed in Jewish village condemned by Jesus

Archaeologists ‘very excited’ over discovery in Korazim in northern Israel, mentioned in Talmud, New Testament and known for its wheat production

A winepress adorned with a mosaic has been recently unearthed at the site of a 1,500-year-old Jewish village in northern Israel.

The winepress, discovered at the Korazim National Park north of the Sea of Galilee and measuring four meters long and four meters wide, is from the Talmudic era — the 4th-6th centuries CE — according to a Monday statement by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

The statement said a conservation team happened to reveal the edge of the mosaic during work at the national park and reported it to the site manager, Dekel Segev.

“We were determined to complete the excavation since this is the only mosaic in the ancient Jewish village that was in Korazim during the Talmudic era,” Segev said.

The site of an excavation at the Korazim National Park where a winepress and mosaic have been unearthed, March 2019. (Ahiya Cohen-Tavor/Israel Nature and Parks Authority)

“This is definitely another fascinating point of interest for visitors in the national park,” he said.

Segev said the staff was very excited to find that the mosaic was part of a winepress.

“There were Jews here who drank wine and produced wine, alongside Korazim’s special olive oil and wheat industries,” he said. “The winepress provides further evidence for the uniqueness of the village, with all its features that included residential homes, agricultural industries, a Jewish ritual bath and of course the magnificent synagogue.”

The site of an excavation at the Korazim National Park where a winepress and mosaic have been unearthed, March 2019. (Ahiya Cohen-Tavor/Israel Nature and Parks Authority)

Archaeologist Ahiya Cohen-Tavor, who has been leading the excavation at Korazim, said that “unlike most winepresses, which are located in agricultural sites, this one is in the village itself, and the agronomists invested also in decorating its floor with a mosaic featuring patterns of squares and rhombuses.”

The site of an excavation at the Korazim National Park where a winepress and mosaic have been unearthed, March 2019. (Ahiya Cohen-Tavor/Israel Nature and Parks Authority)

He said the winemakers would step on grapes over the mosaic, and that the winepress also had a millstone to squeeze the remainder of the juice. The juice would be stored in jugs, where it would ferment and become wine.

The discovery was made in archaeological digs at the site carried out by the Dagesh company, which holds touristic excavations that can be joined by members of the public. The excavation is also managed by the Ariel University and the Nature and Parks Authority, with funding from the Finance Ministry.

The archaeologists said the excavation will continue at the site in an effort to reveal other parts from the winepress and the surrounding area.

Korazim, located just north of the Sea of Galilee, was first mentioned in the New Testament as one of the Jewish towns condemned by Jesus for rejecting his teachings, making it a pilgrimage site for Christian tourists.

The Talmud mentions the site as a producer of fine wheat. Remnants of the synagogue and ritual baths have previously been uncovered at the site.

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