Following an urban survey of the site in 1999, a large-scale archaeological project, planned to include at least ten seasons of excavation, was inaugurated at Hippos (Sussita). The project is directed by A. Segal, under the auspices of the Zinman Institute of Archaeology, University of Haifa. Assisting in the direction of the expedition during the seasons reported were J. Mlynarczyk of the Polish Academy of Sciences and M. Burdajewicz of the National Museum in Warsaw. In the summer of 2002, the third season of excavation, the expedition was joined by a group from Concordia University, St. Paul, Minnesota, headed by M. Schuler. The results of the first three seasons are presented below. Each season lasted one month.
THE FORUM. A large section of what appears to have been Hippos’ forum (25 by 13 m) has been excavated so far. It was paved with rectangular basalt flagstones uniform in size (0.40 by 0.70 cm) and laid with great precision. Scores of these stones bear masons’ marks. In the southwestern part of the forum a stone staircase leading to a large subterranean reservoir was uncovered. The L-shaped staircase has seven stairs in its upper flight, descending from north to south; the lower flight of the staircase, leading into the reservoir, is oriented east–west. The two flights of stairs are connected by a landing, 2.5 by 1 m. The upper flight is preserved in its entirety; of the lower flight, only the bottom six stairs survive in situ. The reservoir is in an excellent state of preservation, having suffered little damage over the years. It is rectangular in shape, 20 by 6 m and up to 9 m deep. Its western boundary adjoins the eastern wall of the monumental ashlar building.