Douglas Guthrie/Tel Miqne-Ekron Excavation Project

At least a thousand tons of olive oil flowed from Ekron’s presses, such as the one at upper left in this photo, during a good harvest year. This enormous output—one-fifth of the olive oil produced for export in modern Israel—made seventh-century B.C.E. Ekron the largest olive-oil producer in the ancient Near East. One hundred and three presses have been discovered so far at the site. See reconstruction drawing for clarification of how the presses worked.

Eight weight stones, four per wooden beam, can be seen at right in the photo. The hole in each stone was for the rope by which they were suspended from the ends of the beams. Traces of the beams themselves, in carbonized form, are visible in the photo above as dark patches in the floor between the presses and the weights. Also seen are the barely visible open necks of storejars sunk into the floor.

The olive-oil installations, like most of the significant structures in seventh-century B.C.E. Ekron, were made of limestone, probably from the low-lying hills of the nearby Shephelah of Judah. Movement of stone, and most likely of expert stonecutters as well, between the kingdom of Judah and Philistine Ekron supports the contention that the seventh century B.C.E. was an era of peaceful co-operation between these two formerly bitter enemies.