JMP Area 6 Excavations

Work in Area 6 continued clearing the white mosaic paving of a corridor and pool found in 2011. The eastern portion was interrupted by a secondary wall placed on the mosaic within the pool for a building which extended eastward to the boundary fence. The pool is now identifiable as a large crushing floor with a large basalt base for the crushing machinery. A drain led from the floor into a settling tank from which two pipes carried the juices to two vats. One remains hidden in the baulk, but the other had narrow stairs and a mosaic flooring. The general plan is typical of many “wine presses” in Bilad al-Sham, though this example is unusually well designed and constructed. Such presses are usually dated to the Byzantine period, but this is clearly Umayyad and continued in use for a long time. The final period is difficult to determine but limited evidence suggests the early 9th century. Area 6 or the Grape Press was the finest building in the northern area. Indicating the importance of wine, dibs, and other products for which Jericho was famous in the Byzantine and Islamic periods. This was the largest and best planned press discovered in the entire region. A later wall cuts across the building leaving 1/3 of the structure outside of the archaeological property. Originally a corridor went entirely around the central crushing floor. There were benches with plaster for tired treaders and the stone base for a screw press in the middle. All floors were covered with white mosaics. From the crushing floor, the juices went to a settling pit and then to two vats. The large vat on the eastern side is preserved with stairs and mosaics covering the interior floor. Fragments of the stone arch and brick vaulting provide the first evidence of roofing above such vats. The entire building was covered by arches and vaulting making this the most deluxe example of such presses, in this case for the Umayyad rulers.