In June 2000, a trial excavation was conducted east of Moshav Bet Nehemya, at Khirbat Beit Kufa (Permit No. A-3245; map ref. 196270–315/653100–200; Fig. 1), after ancient remains were discovered while overseeing construction work on Highway 6. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Cross-Israel Highway Company, Ltd., was directed by A. Glick, with the assistance of Y. Elisha (inspection), V. Essman (surveying and drafting), H. Tzion (GPS), T. Sagiv (field photography), M. Shuiskaya (pottery drawing) and N. Zak and D. Porotzki (plans). Additional assistance was rendered by R. Kletter, E. Yannai and E. Haddad.
Square A yielded a northwest–southeast wall (W1; exposed length c. 2.5 m; Fig. 2) built of medium and large fieldstones (length 0.15–0.60 m) preserved to a height of one course. The stones of the wall were laid on soil devoid of any finds that covered the bedrock. A layer of small stones (length c. 0.1 m), perhaps a floor foundation, was discovered near the wall and to its northeast.
Square B yielded a north–south wall (W2; exposed length c. 4.5 m; Fig. 3) constructed of two rows of fieldstones and coarsely dressed stones (max. length 0.6 m) with a fill of small fieldstones in between. The wall survived to a height of one course and continued north beyond the excavation area. Soil (thickness 0.15 m) devoid of any finds was exposed beneath the wall, below which was the bedrock surface.
Walls 1 and 2 were both poorly preserved; consequently, it was impossible to determine if they were part of a building or retaining walls of agricultural terraces.
Squares C and D. Two northwest–southeast agricultural terrace retaining walls (W3, W4; Fig. 4) were excavated; W3 was the more massive of the two. Wall 3 was built of roughly hewn, medium and large stones (max. length 0.9 m), which were preserved to a height of two courses. Only one course of medium-sized stones survived in Wall 4.
Several abraded pottery sherds dating to the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods were found in the excavation. The ceramic artifacts from the Byzantine period include a rim of a Late Roman C bowl (Fig. 5:1), a krater rim (Fig. 5:2), a bag-shape jar (Fig. 5:3) and Gaza jars (Fig. 5:4, 5). The pottery from the Early Islamic period include a jar rim (Fig. 5:6), a jug’s neck (Fig. 5:7) and vessels made of buff ware, including a base of a small vessel (Fig. 5:8). In addition, several coarse tesserae and a fragment of a basalt millstone were found in the excavation.
Avner R. 2000. Bet Nehemya (Southeast). HA-ESI 112:62*.
Parnos G. and Avissar M. 2005. Khirbat Beit Kufa. HA-ESI 117
Yekutieli Y., Faran N. and Ben Yishai Y. 2000. Bet Nehemya. ESI 20:134*.