A large ancient wine factory in the world has found an ancient gold ring with amethyst that was thought to have been worn to stop hangovers.
The ‘spectacular’ ring was found during excavations led by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the city of Yavne in central Israel.
This is the location for the 75,000-square foot Byzantine wine plant, which was revealed earlier in the year. It produced as many as two million litres per year in its prime.
The ring could have been worn by someone of high standing to signify their wealth, possibly in the 7th century AD, because of its lustrous violet-coloured central stone.
It’s also possible that the last wearer was a wine taster who believed the purple stone would ward off the effects of alcohol – a widely-shared myth in the ancient world.
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During excavations of the largest ancient wine factory in Israel, Yavne (Israel), Israel Antiquities Authority discovered a spectacular gold ring with amethyst.
The gold ring is set with amethyst – widely believed in the ancient world to halt the effects of alcohol, although this is rubbished by modern science
Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) shared the finding on its Facebook page.
‘Amethyst is mentioned in the Bible as one of the 12 types of stones on the High Priest’s breastplate,’ it says.
‘Many virtues have been associated with this gem, including preventing hangovers, which is ironic as the ring was discovered near the Byzantine wine factory.’
Amethyst can be described as crystalline quartz and comes in a variety colors, from pale lilac to deep reddish violet. It’s classified as a semi precious stone and today is generally relatively affordable.
It was one of 12 stones that were incorporated into the ceremonial breastplate of the High Priest, as described in the Book of Exodus.
Dr Amir Golani is an IAA ancient jewelry expert and believes the ring belonged to a wealthy individual and that the wearer was indicating their wealth and status.
‘Such rings could be worn by both men and women,’ Dr Golani told the Times of Israel.
Excavation directors for the Israel Antiquities Authority are cautious about dating the ring.
It was however found in layers that were dated to the late Byzantine and early Islamic periods (7th Century AD), indicating it to be around 1,400 years of age.
The IAA claims that it is possible for such a ring to have been passed down through generations for many centuries.
It said that gold amethyst rings are common in Roman times. The ring may therefore have been passed down to a wealthy Yavneh resident as far back as the 3rd century AD.
Experts believe the ring (pictured) was worn by someone of high status to show their wealth, possibly in the seventh century AD.
The 75,000-square-foot complex included individual winepresses measuring 2,400 square feet.
Pictured are ancient vats once used for wine storage at the former Byzantine winepress in Yavne – the world’s largest ancient wine factory
The Greeks are thought to have started the trend of keeping amethyst close to them to lessen the effects of a hangover – something that is of course rubbished by modern science.
The name of this popular gemstone means “not drunken” in Greek. It was widely believed that it could stop the effects of alcohol in ancient times. This belief may have spread to the Byzantines.
“Did that person wear the ring to avoid intoxication because they had consumed a lot of wine?” Speaking to the Times of Israel, Dr Elie Haddad, director of excavations for the IAA, said that. “We probably won’t know.”
The Byzantine Empire, also known as the Eastern Roman Empire (from 1261 to 1453 and 395 to 1204, respectively), was a powerful civilization that was based at Constantinople, modern-day Istanbul.
The ring was discovered at the vast historical Byzantine network that once made up the ancient Israeli wine factory.
The site, which is in the middle of Israel would have been important enough to be on a map with Jerusalem
The 75,000-square foot site was excavated by archaeologists over two years as part of a plan to expand Yavne and its surrounding areas.
They found five massive wine presses, warehouses for ageing and marketing the wine and even kilns for firing the clay vessels used to store the wine.
The factory was well-organized and structured, and produced the regional wine Gaza, or Ashkelon. It was then exported across the Mediterranean.
Israeli employees of Israel Antiquities Authority work at the site where the 1,500-year old industrial estate wine factory was discovered in Yavne archeological excavations
A general view of the site. They found five large wine presses, warehouses to age and market the wine, as well as kilns to fire the clay vessels that were used for storage.
“We were shocked to discover a sophisticated factory there, which was used for wine production in commercial quantities,” excavation directors stated in a statement.
“A calculation of these winepresses’ production capacity showed that approximately two million litres were marketed each year. However we must remember that the entire process was manually performed.
The UK produces less than eight million litres a year, by comparison.