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Ancient Shiloh olive press found in time for Hanukkah

1,300-year-old press found in Israel’s first capital will be open to families on Hanukkah to press oil and renew the tradition.

By Ido Ben-Porat


During the latest archaeological excavation season at Tel Shiloh, the site of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) that preceded the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, an impressive ancient olive press was found in the southern portion of the site.

The press, found in an excavation led by Dr. Ofer Gat, was dated to the early Muslim period of conquest from the 7th to the 10th century CE.

While the press has not been excavated to completion yet, the large structure is already apparent and it is clear it was used as a public olive press.

The newly discovered press joins a previously unearthed olive press located adjacently, which was found during the summer of 2011.

The formation of olive presses located adjacent to or connected to each other is a known feature from the Muslim occupation of the holy land, as seen in additional sites throughout Samaria, and bears testimony to the public nature of the facilities as well as the importance of olive oil in that period.

Opposite the entrance to the olive press structure in a courtyard area, an enormous storehouse was found with burned olive pits. In addition, the remains of clay candles and glass cups typical of the period were also found.

The discovery of the olive press


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