Sunday, September 15, 2013

(Olive) Oil in Them Thar Hills

From :

...When I started my analysis of the Harvard Expedition’s excavation reports and archival material relating to Samaria, I was immediately struck by the fact that there were many rock-cut agricultural installations not included in Stager’s research.
Altogether there are 36 known bottle-shaped cisterns cut into the bedrock of the summit...there are also rock-cut presses for producing oil and rock-cut rectangular preparation areas. The largest of the rectangular installations measures over 5 m. wide ×10 m. long, and slopes from 60 cm. deep to 1 m. deep. This installation’s shallow depth and sloping floor indicate that it was probably a grape-treading area...

This means that Building Period 0 agricultural domain was no small family holding but rather a major commercial enterprise comprising over 100 known bottle-shaped cisterns, and the capacity of just these known cisterns would have had an amazing circa 350,000 liters. Therefore. we can safely assume that they represent a huge agricultural concern that once belonged to Shemer. This must mean that Omri chose this rocky hill-top site as his new capital for its economic potential. There was oil " in them thar hills" and oil (olive oil) meant wealth; and what ambitious king could turn his back on such a lucrative venture?...

...In short, the newly established capital of the northern Kingdom of Israel was not a militarily strategic site, nor was it located on any major trade route; rather it served as the hub of a highly specialized and lucrative oil and wine industry that flourished throughout southern Samaria. It must have been an important element in the kingdom’s economy and a key factor in the emergence of the fully fledged Israelite state during the Omride dynasty.

And today, as then, the oil and wine industries continue during a new Jewish period of residence and economic development.


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