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News: Israel
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1,600-year-old inscription and wine press at the home of a wealthy Samaritan was unearthed at Tzur Natan. Photo Credit: Yitzhak Marmelstein/IAA/Times of Israel.
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by Archaeology Newsroom

A 5th-century Greek inscription was found in central Israel

Along with a wine press of a wealthy Samaritan

A 5th-century Greek inscription found during excavations in central Israel comes from a time of unrest in the region. The mosaic was found in the village of Tzur Natan at a site where a new neighbourhood is to be constructed. The inscription, discovered by a team of the Israel Antiquities Authority, records a blessing for someone called “Master Adios”.

In more detail, the inscription says that “only God help the beautiful property of Master Adios, amen”. According to archaeological and historical evidence, Adios was a wealthy Samaritan landowner. Earlier excavations at the site had also led to the discovery of an ancient Samaritan synagogue nearby, which was turned into a church in the 6th century. The proximity of the synagogue to the winepress also attest to the individual’s high status and wealth. This excavation, carried out by Israel Lands Authority with Dr Hagit Torge leading the works, discovered the inscription and wine press of Master Adios as well as stone quarries with pits used for cultivating grapevines, also in Master Adios’s estate. A similar winepress with a blessing inscription associated with the Samaritans had been discovered in Apollonia near Herzliya a few years ago.

A previous excavation at the site, by the Texas Foundation for Archaeological & Historical Research had concentrated on a Samaritan agricultural and industrial complex. The excavation report highlights the agricultural activity in the region which had been ongoing for millennia, as the soil there was especially good for vines and olives. The Springs of Dardar, located nearby, supplied the place with water allowing for an uninterrupted settlement since the pre-Neolithic period. It seems that in the Roman and Byzantine eras the area was heavily cultivated with approximately 120 wine presses, 50 olive presses, 50 cisterns and numerous terraces encountered in groups every 100-200 metres. Hence the conclusion that farmers in the area were also landowners, Samaritans in particular.

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