Wine drinking culture dates back thousands of years. Further evidence of that was recently unearthed when archeologists in Lebanon excavated a wine press believed to be used as early as 7th century B.C., as reported Monday by National Geographic.

The remains of the 2,600-year-old wine press were discovered during an archaeological dig at Tell el-Burak, a Lebanese city that lies close to the Mediterranean sea, in what would have been ancient Phoenician homelands. The study was first published by the journal Antiquity.

The press comprises a large basin where grapes are believed to have been crushed by foot. The resulting liquid then collected in a lowered vat before it was likely stored in jars known as “amphorae” for fermenting and aging.

Tell El-Burak Archaeological Project
Credit: Tell El-Burak Archaeological Project

According to archaeologist Hélène Sader, co-director of the Tell el-Burak Archaeological Project, “Wine was an important Phoenician trading item.” But up to this point, little evidence of ancient winemaking had been discovered in Lebanon.

The Phoenicians are credited with spreading wine and olive oil throughout the Mediterranean, University of Toronto archaeologist Stephen Batiuk told National Geographic. The civilization introduced wineries and vineyards to colonies throughout Spain, France, Sicily, and North Africa.

“The Phoenicians perhaps introduced a drinking culture,” Batiuk says, along with “[new] drinking vessels, and a different way of relating to wine.”