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Grooved olive press stone - Agia Triada Minoan site  - 3rd January 2007

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Grooved olive press stone - click to enlarge

 
Grooved olive press stone - Agia Triada Minoan site

 

Detail view

 

Pine needles collected in the crack

 

I didn't know what it was when I saw this in the Minoan villa of Agia Triada (near Phaistos). What first jumped at me were the pine needles collecting in the crack. But then looking at the whole object I couldn't figure out what it could have been used for. Some sacrificial plate?

One great explanation that I received: " Such plates are not so rare at Greek archaelogical sites, as well as monasteries and sometimes very old houses. The plate in your picture has a grove on its perimeter and the shape of the whole plate is drop shaped. There is also a central shorter grove towards the side of the peak of the drop. It seems easy to assume that this groves are meant to channel some liquid to a container placed right under the peak of the drop-shaped plate. It could have been for wine making, so a basket full with grapes placed on the plate and someone squeezing the grapes with his feet. Or it may have been for sacrifying or simply slaughtering. It has to do with what is found around it, is it close to a temple, or close to houses?

The pine needles collect in the crack because the wind makes them fall in there and the rain can't wash them away. They don't collect in the grove because their shape does not fit, and if it fits rain washes them away. You see the grove has been there from the very
start, whereas the crack is marking the end of its function."

I got the final version a little later which was that after being pulverised in a mill, the olives are put into net bags or scourtins, then piled up over a grooved stone (this is the one!) and pressed by a weighted wooden beam so that the oil seeps out and runs around the groove into a receiving tank. Et voila!

You can click on the picture to enlarge it.

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