E. Cohen/Tel Miqne-Ekron Excavation Project

Reconstruction showing how olive presses worked. The olives were first crushed with a stone roller in the large, rectangular, shallow basin against the wall at left. The pulp was washed with water and the oil from this first crushing, the finest oil, was skimmed off the water’s surface. To obtain even more oil, the pulp was then placed in woven baskets that were stacked on vats, on either side of the large basin, and topped with a stone. Pressure applied by a long wooden beam, anchored in a niche in the wall and weighted down with stones on the other end, squeezed the remaining oil out of the pulp, through the loosely woven baskets and into the vats below, from which the oil may have been removed by dipper juglets. (Another possibility is that the vats were lined with skin bags which, when filled with oil, could be lifted out.) The reconstruction illustrates this arrangement only to the right of the central basin; though shown only in a cutaway view, the left side had an identical installation.