An ancient farmhouse dating back to 2,800 years ago — complete with 23 rooms, wine presses and a grain silo — is no longer lost to the ages. Over the past few weeks, archaeologists have uncovered the sprawling stone house in Rosh Ha-'Ayin, in central Israel.
Archaeologists found the farmhouse during an excavation that the Israeli government needed to have done before construction could begin to enlarge the modern city. The house, which measures 98 by 131 feet (30 by 40 meters), is "extraordinarily well preserved," Amit Shadman, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said in a statement.
The farmhouse dates back to an era when the Assyrians conquered northern Israel. [The Holy Land: 7 Amazing Archaeological Finds]
"Farmhouses during this period served as small settlements of sorts, whose inhabitants participated in processing agricultural produce," Shadman said. "The numerous wine presses discovered in the vicinity of the settlement indicate the wine industry was the most important branch of agriculture in the region."
The large silo found at the farmhouse likely stored grain, which "shows that the ancient residents were also engaged in growing cereal," Shadman said.
This isn't the first time archaeologists in Israel have stumbled across ancient wine presses. In September, a team uncovered an industrial-size wine press outside Jerusalem in what was likely a monastery before the seventh century B.C., and in 2013, archaeologists found a 1,500-year-old wine press under a city street in Tel Aviv.
The farmhouse continued to be used in the sixth century B.C., when the Jewish people returned to Israel after the Babylonian exile. The building remained active even later, during the Hellenistic period that followed in the wake of Alexander the Great's military conquests.
After Alexander's army defeated the Persians in 333 B.C., he built an empire that spanned from Greece to present-day Pakistan. The people of Israel welcomed the leader, Shadman said.
In the farmhouse, archaeologists found a silver coin with an image of Zeus and Alexander's name next to it.
The Israel Antiquities Authority and the Ministry of Construction plan to preserve the farmhouse and open it to the public, the researchers said.
— Laura Geggel, LiveScience
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