During February 2013, a salvage excavation was conducted at Khirbat Rafeidiya (Permit No. A-6712; map ref. 209588–638/636616–647), in the wake of clearing the area for agricultural purposes. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Anava Vineyards and Wine Corporation, was directed by D. Storchan (field photography), with the assistance of N. Malka (administration), M. Kunin (surveying), Y. Nagar (physical anthropology) and P. Betzer (district archaeologist).
The current excavation, of extremely limited scale, was set up to define and understand a hewn cave that had been damaged by modern construction in the area. The construction removed a large potion of the cave's roof and filled the chamber with earth and stones (Fig. 2). Upon removal of the modern fill, the cave’s generally square plan became clear (2.5×2.5 m; Fig. 3). A few faint traces of chisel marks were noticed on the walls of the cave chamber. Although the chamber walls meet to form corners, the northeastern section of the cave was left rounded and unfinished. A rectangular hewn entranceway (width 0.4 m; Fig. 4) was uncovered in the center of the cave’s southern portion. The entranceway leads down into the chamber by way of a step (height 0.6 m).
Once the plan of the cave became clear, excavation was limited to only the westernmost area. At a depth of 1.5 m from the cave’s roof, hewn benches (width 0.4–0.5 m) encircling the cave along its northern, western, and southern sides were uncovered (Fig. 5). Just above the northern bench, a small niche was carved into the cave wall (width 0.3 m, height 0.2 m), which may have served for placing a lamp. In addition, the beginning of a standing pit (assumed size 1.5×1.8 m) was exposed. The pit was not excavated and the earthen fill was found to have been saturated with water.
In the area to the east of the cave, a rock-cut line was found (length 1.3 m; Fig. 6). The line seems to follow along the axis of the cave’s assumed façade, suggesting the presence of another hewn cave (unexcavated).
Very little ceramic material was recovered from the cave. Only a few potsherds were retrieved from the modern tractor fill, deemed to be of no stratigraphic significance, and can all be dated to the Hellenistic period. The cave can thus be dated only by stylistic association to the rock-cut bench tombs, which are a dominant feature of Iron Age burial customs in the region. The cave usage for burial can be attested by scattered and fragmentary non-diagnostic human skeletal remains that were found on the northern bench at the back of the cave. The cave seems to be a part of the larger agricultural hinterland surrounding the site Tel Kefira, located to the north across the Nahal Kefira valley. Surveys conducted in the area of the site have uncovered ceramic and flint surface finds dateable to the Iron Age.