Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Fish sauce and wine production at ancient Ashkelon

CULINARY ARCHAEOLOGY: Ancient Roman culinary preferences revealed in Ashkelon excavation (IAA press release, via Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
Archaeological excavations conducted by the IAA near Ashkelon uncovered an ancient industrial area with winepresses and rarely discovered installations for producing a popular fish sauce, the preparation of which involved strong odors.

​​(Communicated by the IAA Spokesperson)

Vats used to produce fish sauce (garum) that are among the few known in the Eastern Mediterranean, were recently uncovered by the Israel AntiquitiesAuthority in Ashkelon. The excavation, underwritten by the Municipality of Ashkelon and the Ashkelon Economic Co. in preparation for the establishment of the Eco-Sport Park, has revealed evidence of 2000-year old Roman and Byzantine culinary preferences. Youths of the Kibbutz Movement from Kibbutz Yad Mordecai and pupils from the Makif Vav middle school located next to the project participated in the excavation.


The Roman site was eventually abandoned but the conditions that favored viticulture remained and in the Byzantine period in the 5th c. CE a monastic community began to thrive there, making a living from wine production: three winepresses were built next to an elaborately decorated church. Little of the church has survived but architectural fragments found at the site show that it was decorated with impressive marble and mosaics. A large kiln complex was located nearby that produced wine jars. These appear to have been used for exporting wine, which was the primary income for the monastery.


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