Archaeologists Find Ancient Olive Press

Archaeologists in Turkey have discovered a 2,000-year-old olive oil press at the site of an ancient town run by women and dedicated to olive-oil production.

Apr 3, 2017 2:25 PM EDT
By Paul Conley

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Archaeologists in Turkey have uncov­ered a 2,000-year-old olive press, the old­est such device ever found in the Anatolia region.

The press was uncov­ered dur­ing an exca­va­tion of the Lyrboton Kome set­tle­ment near the south­ern Turkish city of Antalya.

This set­tle­ment is, in fact, a well-pre­served olive oil world.- Nevzat Çevik, Akdeniz University

Of par­tic­u­lar inter­est to the archae­ol­o­gists is that Lyrboton Kome was founded and run by a woman.

Her name was Arete, which trans­lates as honor,” accord­ing to Nevzat Çevik, an archae­ol­ogy pro­fes­sor at Turkey’s Akdeniz University.

This woman was the owner of the set­tle­ment,” Çevik told reporters. And the most impor­tant thing is that she insti­tu­tion­al­ized pro­duc­tion by found­ing olive oil facil­i­ties. The own­er­ship and con­trol of the facil­i­ties and the set­tle­ment started with Arete and was main­tained by her daugh­ter Kille and sub­se­quent gen­er­a­tions. The power of this female-dom­i­nant fam­ily showed itself in set­tle­ment and pro­duc­tion.”


According to the archae­ol­o­gists, Lyrboton Kome was a cen­ter of olive oil pro­duc­tion in the ancient world. A num­ber of olive oil work­shops have been unearthed in the ruins.

This place has high-capac­ity olive oil facil­i­ties. There are at least 80 olive oil ate­liers. This num­ber will rise when the whole set­tle­ment is unearthed. We have been exam­in­ing this whole region for 30 years. So many facil­i­ties have not been found before in a set­tle­ment. This set­tle­ment is, in fact, a well-pre­served olive oil world,” Çevik said.

The his­tory of Lyrboton Kome is still being stud­ied, but much has been learned about the female-run com­mu­nity.

Lyrboton Kome is at least 2,000 years old and was likely founded dur­ing the Hellenistic era. But it became an olive oil trad­ing cen­ter dur­ing the Roman era.

The vil­lage had close ties to Perge, a nearby com­mu­nity that was the cen­ter of a cult reli­gion involv­ing the ancient Greek god­dess Artemis. Among the touches that Arete placed in the com­mu­nity was a tower ded­i­cated to Roman Emperor Domitian, who was assas­si­nated in 96 A.D., and Artemis.

Lyrboton Kome con­tin­ued as a com­mer­cial cen­ter through the Christian era but was aban­doned by the close of the 11th cen­tury.

Soon, how­ever, Lyrboton Kome will be reborn as a tourist attrac­tion. Plans are under way to open the com­mu­nity as an archae­o­log­i­cal park once exca­va­tions are com­plete, accord­ing to Hakan Tütüncü, mayor of nearby Kepez.

According to Sonsoz, the site will be devel­oped as a tourist des­ti­na­tion through a project involv­ing the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Akdeniz University (AU) and Antalya Museum.

In the com­ing days, this will become an archae­o­log­i­cal park. Lyrboton Kome will serve our peo­ple and con­tribute to tourism and at the same time will con­tribute to the brand value of Antalya. It will be an impor­tant place,” said Kepez District pres­i­dent, Hakan Tütüncü.


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