During June 2005, an excavation was conducted in the village of Jatt in the Upper Galilee (Permit No. A-4518; map ref. 22220–2/76430–2), after ancient remains were exposed while relocating an electric line. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Israel Electric Company, was directed by G. Cinamon (surveying, drafting and field photography), with the assistance of Y. Ya‘aqobi (administration).
The excavation was conducted in the historic core of the village, next to the community center. An excavation square (9 sq m; Figs. 1, 2), which was limited in area due to its proximity to the tomb of Sheikh Abu ‘Arus, was opened. Three settlement layers, ascribed to Early Bronze Age I (Stratum I), Early Bronze Age II (Stratum II) and the Byzantine period (Stratum III), were exposed. The upper layer on the tell (IV) consisted of accumulations of soil and potsherds from many periods.
The village of Jatt is situated on an ancient tell; it was surveyed and potsherds, dating from the Early and Middle Bronze Ages, the Iron Age and the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods, were collected. The name Jatt preserves the ancient name ‘Gat Asher', which is first mentioned in Thutmose III list of cities (mid-fifteenth century BCE) and later in a relief by Ramses II (thirteenth century BCE). Crusader documents from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries CE mention the settlement as Jesce, Jeth or Gez, which first belonged to the feudal lord of the fortress at Mi'ilya and later to the knights of the Teutonic Order.
Stratum I. Three cupmarks hewn in chalk bedrock were exposed in the northern part of the excavation area. Worn fragments of two jars, dating to EB I, were discovered on the cupmarks. It seems that these finds belonged to the beginning of the settlement at the site.
Stratum II. A well-constructed wall (W2), built of flat medium-sized limestone and oriented northwest-southeast, was exposed. Small fragments of mud bricks were discovered on W2, which apparently indicate that the stone wall was a foundation for a mud-brick superstructure that was not preserved.
Stratum III. A massive wall (W1; exposed length 3 m, width 1 m, preserved height 0.7 m), built of flat medium-sized limestone and aligned northwest-southeast, was uncovered. Construction of small and medium fieldstones was exposed in the northwestern part of the wall. Another wall (W3), perpendicular to and abutting W1, was also built of flat medium-sized fieldstones. Extremely worn potsherds were exposed while excavating the walls, including jars, cooking pots and small bowls, which dated to the end of the Roman and the beginning of the Byzantine periods. In addition, numerous fragments of roof tiles that are known from churches dating to the Byzantine period were discovered in the excavation. A bell-shaped cistern hewn in the chalk bedrock (L103; max. diam. 2 m, depth c. 2 m; see Fig. 1: Section 1-1) was also exposed in the square. A stone shaft (height c. 1 m) covered with four flat stones (0.3 × 0.5 × 1.0 m) was built above the hewn opening of the cistern (diam. 0.8 m).
Stratum IV. A soil accumulation (thickness 0.7 m) that covered the wall remains and cistern was exposed. Numerous potsherds dating to the Early and Middle Bronze Ages, the Iron Age, and the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods were mixed in the soil. Among the ceramic artifacts was a handle of a Rhodian amphora bearing a worn stamped impression, on which the letter M is legible, which is characteristic of the Hellenistic period. The potsherds had been swept here over the years and they represent the periods when the tell was occupied.