Centre of wine production 1400 years old studied in Jordan

Capitolias (modern Beit Ras), an ancient city in Jordan that was created in the end of the 1st century AD and served the legions which protected the eastern border of the Roman Empire was the scene of excavations of a team of archaeologist from the Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology of University of Warsaw which continued their 3rd season at the site. Excavations in the city that formed the union of 10 ancient cities, called decapolis (nowadays located in Jordan, Syria and Israel) revealed architectural structures among which those connected with the industry that made Capitolias famous in the antiquity – wine production.

Excavations of the North Wall of Capitolias (by J. Młynarczyk)
Excavations of the North Wall of Capitolias (by J. Młynarczyk)

As wine made the city famous in the Byzantine and Early Islamic period, the industry should have let many archaeological structures connected to it. One of such are the relics of a rectangular wine basin covered with mosaic at least 7 metres long with plastered walls. The basin served as a place where grapes were stored and pressed.  The wine production in the city lasted in it’s peak between 6th-8th century, as confirmed by finds such as pieces of amphorae.

Other discovered structures are a water cistern from the same period that was used up to 9th-10th century. After that time it was overbuild and the material used consisted even of parts brought from the nearby church, including a marble presbytery partition wall.

Part of the Byzantine wine basin (by J. Młynarczyk)

An important small find from this season consist of a small bronze spoon, that was used during holy communion. It was discovered in the ruins of the said church. These artefacts, as archaeologists suspect, confirm the sudden destruction of the temple in the 7th century, probably due to Persian invasion.

Bronze spoon (by J. Młynarczyk)
Bronze spoon (by J. Młynarczyk)

Parts of the northern wall of the city were also discovered, dated to the Roman period (2nd cent. AD). The studied area was probably used for production and craft as numerous remains and garbage from workshops were excavated, including glass and ceramic objects.

(after Nauka w Polsce & J. Młynarczyk)

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