During July 2007, a trial excavation was conducted at Horbat Hadad in et-Taiyiba, located in Ramat Yissakhar (Permit No. A-5179; map ref. 242075–90/723275–90), prior to construction. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by F. Abu Zedan (photography), with the assistance of Y. Lavan (administration), R. Mishayev (surveying and drafting), A. Shapiro (GPS), E.J. Stern (pottery) and H. Tahan-Rosen (pottery drawing).
Horbat Hadad extends across the northern and eastern parts of the settlement. One excavation square was opened and three settlement strata were revealed, dating to the Ottoman (Stratum I), Mamluk (Stratum II) and Crusader (Stratum III) periods (Figs. 1, 2).
Remains of a Crusader fortress (Forbelet), which was affiliated with the Hospitaller order and destroyed by Saladin in 1187 CE (Fig. 3) are located c. 50 m west of the current excavation. A previous excavation conducted to the northeast revealed architectural remains dating to the Roman, Byzantine, Crusader and Mamluk periods and potsherds from the Hellenistic period (HA-ESI 120). Remains of two pools from the Byzantine period were exposed in another excavation to the east of the site, next to Nahal Yissakhar (Permit No. A-4622).
Stratum I (the Ottoman period). Building remains, whose walls (width 0.8–1.0 m; preserved height 3.0–3.5 m) consisted of two rows of roughly hewn basalt stones, were exposed. The northern and western walls were preserved their entire length; the southern wall was partially preserved in the west, while only the northern end of the eastern wall had survived. The toppled eastern part of the southern wall was discovered on the tamped-chalk floor of the building that abutted the walls. Plastic bags and other modern objects, indicating that the building was used until recently, were discovered on the floor. Fragments of pottery vessels dating to the Mamluk and Late Ottoman periods, including clay pipes from the Ottoman period (Fig. 4:6) were discovered below the floor.
Stratum II (the Mamluk period). Two walls (W58, W63) that formed a corner of a building were exposed. A floor foundation of small and medium fieldstones (L57; Fig. 5) abutted the walls. Another wall (W62), preserved a single course high, adjoined the corner of the building from the south; it was built in a northeast-southwest direction of different size stones, some of which were roughly hewn. Wall 62 formed a sharp angle at the join with W58 and it can therefore be assumed that it was part of another complex. Potsherds dating to the Mamluk period were discovered on either side of W62, including a rim of a green glazed bowl (Fig. 4:3), a bowl rim that is slipped and painted (Fig. 4:4) and a holemouth jar rim (Fig. 4:5).
Stratum III (the Crusader period). An earlier wall (W59), built of partially dressed basalt stones, was exposed below W62. Wall 59 was adjoined from the west by a wall (W61; Fig. 6) built of small and medium roughly hewn basalt blocks. Remains of plaster were discovered on Walls 59 and 61. A burnt layer (L64; Fig. 7) was exposed in the corner formed by Walls 59 and 61; it was probably the remains of a tabun whose bottom was made of smoothed clay. The mud-brick material discovered around it was probably used to line the tabun. The two walls and the tabun were founded on basalt bedrock. The ceramic finds from the stratum are dated to the Crusader period and include jar rims (Fig. 4:1, 2).
The excavation revealed that the site was first settled in the Crusader period. The walls from this period were built on the bedrock and it seems that they were part of structures built inside the wall and moat, next to the Crusader fortress. Apparently, after the fortress was destroyed in the Mamluk period, the settlement continued to exist and new buildings were constructed on the remains of those from the Crusader period, incorporating the Crusader building stones in secondary use. It seems that the Ottoman building was established in the eighteenth–nineteenth centuries CE and it continued to be used until the present time. This building is part of a residential quarter that was constructed alongside the Crusader fortress.