Carl Andrews, Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

Dozens of clay balls—some as large as grapefruits—found in a winery in Ashkelon, posed a dilemma for the excavators. What were they? Because the balls were perforated through their centers, it was thought that they might have been loom weights, used to anchor threads while weaving. More likely, however, they are wine-jar stoppers. The clay balls fit easily into the mouths of fat-bellied storage jars. Plugging the jars during fermentation, the stoppers allowed the build-up of gases to be released at regular intervals through their perforations.