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
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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