From Antipatris To Emmaus -- By: E. Robinson
BSac 10:39 (July 1853) p. 528
From Antipatris To Emmaus
Saturday, April 25th, 1852. We had left Nâblus in the morning on the direct road for Lydda and Ramleh, and encamped in the afternoon near the village of Hableh, situated at the foot of the mountains on the border of the great western plain. Our tent was in a tract of low ground, between the village on the north, and a low rocky hill with a Wely on the south.
We were here surrounded by ancient cisterns dug out in the solid rocks, mostly with a round opening at top. Some were entirely open. One of them, seven feet long by five broad and three deep, was merely sunk in the rock, with two steps to descend into it. Another one, of similar dimensions, had but one step left. A large cistern was near the water-course; it was twelve feet long by nine broad, and about eight feet deep; two rude and very flat arches were thrown over it, and on these rested the covering of flat stones, some of which still remained. A cistern on the slope of the hill south was still in use, and females from the village filled their jars there, and bore them off on their heads. All these excavations were evidently ancient, and were thus numerous just here in the low ground, because of the greater abundance of water in the rainy season.
Another excavation near by was at first more puzzling. Its appearance was like a sarcophagus, regularly hewn on the outside. On going to it, the interior proved to be only five feet long by twenty inches broad; but this was merely the entrance to an arched vault beneath, all hewn in the solid rock. The interior was now filled with stones. It was doubtless a sepulchral excavation; it could not have been a cistern, for no water could have run into it. I afterwards found seven similar excavations on the hill south, all in one large flat rock. The entrances of these were level with the surface of the rock; and there were also traces of grooves for lids, though no lids are now to be found.
Still another excavation, close to our tent, which interested me, was an ancient wine-press, the first I had ever seen. Advantage had been taken of a ledge of rock $ on the upper side$ towards the south,
BSac 10:39 (July 1853) p. 529
a shallow vat had been dug out, eight feet square and fifteen inches deep, its bottom declining slightly towards the north. The thickness of rock left on the north was one foot; and two feet lower down, on that side, another smaller vat was excavated, four feet square by three feet deep. The grapes were trodden in the shallow upper vat, and the juice drawn off by a hole at the bottom (still remaining) into the lower vat. This ancient press would seem to prove that the adjacent hills were once covered with vineyards; and such is...
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