The tomb of Neby Shit ("prophet Seth")
|Name meaning||"House of Seth"|
|Also spelled||Beshshit, "Beit Shit" (="House of Seth")|
|Date of depopulation||May 13, 1948|
|Cause(s) of depopulation||Military assault by Yishuv forces|
|Current localities||Neve Mivtah, Meshar, Kfar Mordechai, Misgav Dov, Kannot, Shedema, and Aseret.|
Bashshit (Arabic: بشيت), also Beshshit, was a Palestinian Arab village in the Ramle Subdistrict, located 16.5 kilometers (10.3 mi) southwest of Ramla about half a mile from wadi Bashshit. Archaeological artifacts from the village attest to habitation in the Early Islamic period and 12th and 13th centuries. Mentioned by Arab geographers from the 13th century onward, there was a tomb for the Neby Shit ("prophet Seth") in the village.
Like much the rest of Palestine, Bashshit was ruled by the Crusaders, Mamluks, Ottomans and the British. It was depopulated at the beginning of the 1948 Palestine war during Operation Barak. Along with the villages of Barqa, Bayt Daras, al-Batani al-Sharqi, and al-Maghar, among others, Bashshit was attacked by Haganah's Givati Brigade. Following its depopulation, Bashshit was mostly destroyed. There are seven Israeli localities now situated on what were the village lands.
According to the Palestine Exploration Fund, Beshshit stands for Beit Shit, meaning "house of Seth. The tomb of Neby Shit ("prophet Seth") was in Bashshit, and other sanctuaries for him in the region included one in Samaria (Haram en Neby Shit), as well as Al-Nabi Shayth further north in Lebanon. The tomb lies within a triple-domed mosque of the same name located on the side of a hill that lay in the center of the former village.
During the Crusader period in Palestine, Bashshit was referred to as Basit. The village is mentioned by at least two Arab geographers as far back as the 13th century, when the village was under the rule of the Mamluks. It is documented in the writings of Yaqut al-Hamawi (died 1228) who mentioned it in his Mu'jam, describing its proximity to al-Ramla.
In the late 19th century, while under Ottoman rule, Bashshit was an important village between Yibna and Isdud. The village structures in Bashshit were made of adobe bricks. There were cultivated gardens with cactus hedges, and on a hill, stood a three-domed shrine.
British Mandate era
During the British Mandate period, the village had a rectangular layout, extending in the east-west direction. Bashshit had an elementary school, built in 1921, in which 148 students were enrolled in the mid-1940s. A mosque, and a number of artesian wells, was located in the village center. The main economic activities were agriculture and animal husbandry. Grain was the chief crop.
In a census conducted in 1922 by the British Mandate authorities, Bashit had a population of 936; all Muslims, increasing in the 1931 census to 1,125, still all Muslims, in a total of 333 houses. By 1945, the population had increased to 1,620, the population being entirely Arab in ethnicity. The village comprised a total area of 18,553 dunums.
A large number of inhabitants were employed in cereal farming, which occupied most of the land area. Some land was also allocated for irrigation and plantation, and the growing of citrus fruits and olives.
1948 War and aftermath
Between May 10 and May 13, 1948, the village was attacked by the 52nd and 53rd battalions of the Givati Brigade as part of Operation Barak. The villagers put up a major struggle, but the houses were mostly all destroyed.
Today, there are seven Israeli settlements on the village land; including Newe Mivtach, Meshar, Kefar Mordekhay, Misgav Dov, Kannot, Shedema, and Aseret. Of Bashshit's former structures, three houses and a pool remain; two of the houses are deserted and an Israeli family occupies one. The surrounding lands today are cultivated by Israelis for agricultural production.
The village also contains an archaeological site, al-Nabi 'Ararat, which has some remaining pillars and cisterns. However, the site is fenced off and marked as a "dangerous building" and the cisterns are heavily populated with bats. The remains of a courtyard in front of the khirbat ("ruins") is heavily overgrown with weeds.
In 1999, the village became subject of an archaeological investigation by the Israel Antiquities Authority. The excavation, directed by T. Kanias, with the assistance of A. Hajian (surveying), R. Graff (drafting) and M. Saltzberger (photography) involved the excavation of the sewer line which revealed building remains and ceramic fragments from the Early Islamic period and the 12th–13th centuries CE. Various sized kurkar stones were discovered 0.9 m below the surface, pottery fragments from the Early Islamic period and a few animal bones. Numerous potsherds were excavated also dating to the 12th–13th centuries CE, including the foot of a clay box lined with chalk and decorated with a geometric pattern and the remains of a plaster floor.
- Palmer, 1881, p. 266
- Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 29
- Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 66
- Morris, 2004, p. xix, village #257. Also gives cause of depopulation
- Khalidi, 1992, p.85
- Palestine Exploration Fund (PEF), 1838, p. 84.
- Conder, 1877, p. 93
- Petersen, 2001, p. 110.
- le Strange, 1890, p.421
- Khalidi, 1992, p.363.
- Conder and Kitchener, 1882, SWP II, p.409.
- Barron, 1923, Table V, Sub-district of Gaza, p. 9
- Mills, 1932, p. 2.
- Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 114
- Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 164
- Morris, 2004, p. 256
- "Destroyed villages:Bashshit". www.alnakba.org. Archived from the original on May 27, 2010. Retrieved August 22, 2009.
- Tracing all that remains of the destroyed village of Bashshit -Palestine
- Kanias, 2004, Bashshit Final Report
- Barron, J. B., ed. (1923). Palestine: Report and General Abstracts of the Census of 1922. Government of Palestine.
- Conder, C. R. (1877). "The Moslem Mukam". Quarterly statement - Palestine Exploration Fund. 9: 89–103.
- Conder, Claude Reignier; Kitchener, H. H. (1882). The Survey of Western Palestine: Memoirs of the Topography, Orography, Hydrography, and Archaeology. 2. London: Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund.
- Department of Statistics (1945). Village Statistics, April, 1945. Government of Palestine.
- Hadawi, Sami (1970). Village Statistics of 1945: A Classification of Land and Area ownership in Palestine. Palestine Liberation Organization Research Center.
- Kanias, Tzach (2004-05-31). "Bashshit Final Report" (116). Hadashot Arkheologiyot – Excavations and Surveys in Israel.
- Khalidi, Walid (1992). All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948. Washington D.C.: Institute for Palestine Studies. ISBN 0-88728-224-5.
- Mills, E., ed. (1932). Census of Palestine 1931. Population of Villages, Towns and Administrative Areas. Jerusalem: Government of Palestine.
- Morris, Benny (2004). The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-00967-6.
- Palmer, E. H. (1881). The Survey of Western Palestine: Arabic and English Name Lists Collected During the Survey by Lieutenants Conder and Kitchener, R. E. Transliterated and Explained by E.H. Palmer. Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund.
- Petersen, Andrew (2002). A Gazetteer of Buildings in Muslim Palestine: (British Academy Monographs in Archaeology). I. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-727011-0.
- Palestine Exploration Fund (1838). Henry C. Stewardson, ed. The Survey of Western Palestine. Printed for the Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund by Harrison & Sons.
- Strange, le, Guy (1890). "Palestine Under the Moslems: A Description of Syria and the Holy Land from A.D. 650 to 1500". Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund.