In November 2016, a salvage excavation was conducted in the agricultural area of Moshav Tirat Yehuda (Permit No. A-7834; map ref. 193255-60/657038-50), in the wake of damage caused to antiquities during the installation of a new sewer line. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by Hevel Modiʽin Regional Council, was directed by E.G. Zwiebel, with the assistance of Y. Amrani (administration), A. Hajian (surveying and drafting), A. Peretz (field photography), P. Gendelman (pottery reading and consultation), R. Toueg (trial trenches), S. Crispin (metal detection), M. Shuiskaya (pottery drawing) and D.T. Ariel (numismatics).
Among the remains visible on the surface at the site of En-Nabi Kifl are buildings and building stones, two wells, columns, capitals and bases, a mosque/sheikh’s tomb, decorative lintels and a large underground reservoir. Pottery dating to the Byzantine, Early Islamic and Mamluk periods was collected at the site.
A few potsherds and a rounded rock were found in a previous excavation at the site (Finkielsztejn 2007
The excavation was conducted in the agricultural area southwest of Moshav Tirat Yehuda (Fig. 1), initially using mechanical equipment to a depth of c. 1.5 m followed by a manual excavation of two squares to a further depth of c. 30 cm (Figs. 2, 3). A layer of stones and three layers of fill were exposed in clay soil. The finds consisted mainly of pottery sherds dating from the end of the Roman period until the Early Islamic period and coins from the Mamluk period.
Four strata were revealed. The earliest stratum, on the bedrock, was dated to the Hellenistic and Early Roman periods based on the ceramic evidence. Above this stratum was a layer of packed stones with no datable finds. Two later overlying strata (L100, L102) yielded pottery sherds from the Late Roman–Early Islamic periods, including kraters (Fig. 4:1, 2) and jars (Fig. 4:3, 4). Later pottery sherds dating to the Mamluk period (Fig. 4:5) were discovered above these layers, as well as six Mamluk coins (IAA 161124–161127, 161129, 161130) and one early Ottoman coin (IAA 161128), all from the fourteenth–fifteenth centuries CE. These are probably evidence of activity during the Mamluk period, at which time the en-Nabi Kifl mosque began operating nearby.
In addition, the mosque/tomb structure of Sheikh en-Nabi Kifl, c. 100 m north of the excavation area (Figs. 5, 6), was documented. In the first phase, a main hall was constructed; it was entered from the north and had two domes and a mihrab on its southern side. In a later phase, courtyards were added outside the building—to the north and the west. The entire complex is surrounded by piles of collapse, a sign that walls enclosed the compound at one time.
A stone column drum (Fig. 7) was found on the surface.
No architectural finds were discovered in the two squares that were excavated; however, the finds and remains in the vicinity attest to activity in the Hellenistic, Late Roman and Mamluk periods.