These teenagers dug up an ancient wine press
Photo by Alex Wiegmann, courtesy of the IAA (Israel Antiquities Authority)

Most 13-year-old Jewish boys are eagerly planning their Bar Mitzvah parties. But not a certain group of boys in Jerusalem, Israel. Instead of hanging out and doing normal teenage things, this group of kids decided to spend their free time excavating a centuries-old wine press. A jogger, Tamar Simone, noticed the press – and the missing “don’t touch” warning signs indicating an authorized dig. Suspecting a theft, she called the Israel Archaeological Institute to warn them of the masterminds at play. When investigators showed up, they were surprised to find a young boy instead of a mustache-twiddling Dr. Evil character.

Amit Ram, the archaeologist from the IAA (Israel Antiquities Authority) heading Jerusalem’s district, says, “Before we could even ask what he was doing there, the boy ran up and openly and proudly told us that he and his friends were archaeology buffs and had done this excavation.”

Turns out the boastful boy and his friends did a pretty good job, too.

Judaism is a highly oenophilic and alcohol-centric religion, so it’s no surprise that Jerusalem is home to lots of booze related artifacts. Past finds include another ancient wine press in 2010 and beer making equipment. While digging up the wine press (which could date back to the sixth or seventh century) was technically against the law, Ram has made it clear the boys won’t be punished.

“On the one hand it’s a crime. On the other hand I realized it was done in innocence, and I was touched to the core by the boy’s story – which reminded me of my boyhood, at age 12 or 13. We suggested that the boy and [his] friends channel their energies to works for the community.”

Looks like someone’s getting a rad summer internship.

H/t Haaretz