Olive Crusher

This olive installation is located at the modern-day city of Maresha in southern Judea. Its appearance and location in a cave are typical of ancient presses. Oil installations were commonly placed in caves because the more moderate temperatures improved the efficiency of olive production. It is likely that the gethsemane Jesus visited the night before his arrest was in a cave near an olive grove.

The ripe (black) olives were placed in a large, round basin (called yam or "sea"). A donkey, blindfolded to prevent dizziness, walked around the basin, pushing the horizontal beam and rolling the wheel (called memel or millstone) on the ripe fruit, crushing it into pulp. Smaller caves beyond the crusher may have been used to store the olive oil in clay jars, keeping it cool so it did not spoil.