During May–June 2009, a trial excavation was conducted at Hittin (Permit No. A-5657; map ref. 24295/74587), prior to the construction of a water reservoir. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Meqorot Company, was directed by M. Hartal, with the assistance of G. Cinamon, H. Bron and O. Zingboym (area supervision), Y. Ya‘aqobi (administration), R. Mishayev and Y. Nemichnitzer (surveying and drafting) and D. Syon (metal detector).
The excavation area lies on a slope within the precincts of the Arab village of Hittin, which was abandoned in 1948 and completely demolished in the 1960s. The village ruins covered the excavation area to a height of c. 1.5 m and were removed with the aid of a backhoe. Five squares (A1–A4, B6; Fig. 1) were opened in the cleared area and four strata that dated to Early Bronze Age I (4), the Roman period (3), the Mamluk period (2) and the modern era (1) were exposed.
Hittin village was situated on the remains of the Jewish village Hittiya, which is mentioned in the literary sources from the time of the Mishnah and Talmud. The site was inhabited throughout many periods because of its location near an abundant spring, at the edge of a fertile valley and close to a road.
Two seasons of excavation were conducted at the site in 2005, prior to paving a road to nearby en-Nabi Shu‘eib; remains that dated from the Early Bronze Age I until the Byzantine period were exposed (Permit No. A-4376).
Stratum 1. Remains of a building that dated to the time of Hittin village were exposed in Square A4 (Fig. 2).The building, like the rest of the others in the village, was constructed from soft limestone, not locally quarriedandthe wall foundations were built of basalt stones. The building was constructed on a slope and hence had two levels. The floor of the lower level consisted of basalt fieldstones and was overlain with a layer of light colored soil. A low wall, at whose end was a column drum in secondary use, enclosed the floor. The upper level had a plaster floor, which was c. 1 m higher than the floor of the lower level. Metallic domestic ware, glass and pottery vessels and agricultural tools from the middle of the twentieth century CE were discovered in the building.
Wall foundations built of basalt stones were discovered close to surface in Squares A1–A3. These were probably the foundations of buildings from the Hittin village that were not in use during the final phase of the village.
Stratum 2 (Mamluk period). Inclined layers of soft soil, rich in organic material and separated by ash deposits, were discovered below the modern buildings in Squares A1–A4 (Fig. 3). The finds in these layers included a large amount of pottery from the Mamluk period and many bones. It seems that these were layers of refuse discarded down the slope.
A circular installation, enclosed within a wall that was built of stones with red soil in-between, was discovered in Square B6 (Fig. 4). The installation, whose excavation was not completed, was filled with soil and potsherds that dated to the Mamluk period. It is possible that the installation was not built in the Mamluk period, but rather in the Roman period, and was filled in later on (below).
Stratum 3 (Roman period). A layer of soil that contained a large amount of potsherds, most of which were fragments of a single jar type that dated to the third century CE, was exposed in Squares A1–A3, below Stratum 2.No cooking or serving vessels, which are commonly found in houses of this period, were discovered and no Kefar Hananya ware, which was used extensively in the Galilee and recovered in large quantities from the excavation of 2005, was exposed. Thus, it seems that the numerous jar fragments in the stratum originated in the debris of a pottery workshop where these jars were produced. The round installation in Square 6 was possibly used as a kiln in the Roman period.
A section of an aqueduct channel (width 0.25 m, depth 0.45 m; Fig. 5) that was coated with gray plaster of excellent quality was revealed beneath a modern structure in Square A4. A few jar fragments from the Roman period, which dated the aqueduct, were discovered in the channel. It seems that the aqueduct conveyed water from the spring to some unknown destination.
Stratum 4 (Early Bronze Age I). A floor of crushed chalk was exposed below Stratum 3 in Square A2 (Fig. 6). A meager amount of ceramic finds that mostly dated to Early Bronze Age I was discovered on the floor. A gaping pit in the eastern part of the floor was created when a channel, dug in the soil below the floor, had collapsed. The channel was covered with basalt slabs (Fig. 7) and contained potsherds that dated to Early Bronze Age I; the channel was probably a tomb.
Potsherds dating to the Pottery Neolithic period were collected from the balk north of the excavation; it seems that the settlement at the site had begun during this period.Some of the material from Early Bronze Age IA belongs to the first phase of the period, although the nature of the settlement in this period is still unclear. During the 2005 excavation at the site, numerous remains that dated to Early Bronze Age IB were discovered, among them the remains of a city wall. The settlement seems to have moved to the top of the slope in this phase, and apparentlycontinued to exist in the same location throughout the Bronze and Iron Ages and the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods.During the Roman period, the current excavation area was most likely used as an industrial zone where a pottery workshop had produced jars. As pottery manufacture requires large amounts of water, these were most likely supplied by the aqueduct uncovered close to the presumed workshop location. The settlement at the top of the slope was abandoned during the Byzantine period and was probably relocated down the slope. Remains dating to the Mamluk period and of the modern Arab village, discovered in the current excavation, were not exposed at the top of the slope.