During March 1998, a salvage excavation was conducted in a burial cave, hewn in a cliff below the ruin of ‘En Lavan in Nahal Refa’im (Permit No. A-2830; map ref. NIG 21528/62850; OIG 16528/12850), in the wake of damage caused by the installation of a sewage line. The excavation, carried out on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Jerusalem Development Authority, was directed by G. Solimany (photography), assisted by H. Abu-Ta‘a and R. Graff (surveying).
The cave (3 × 4 m; Fig. 1) had its entrance, which was damaged by a backhoe, in the southwest. It led to an antechamber (1.6 × 1.6 m, height 1.7 m). Arcosolia were hewn in three of its walls and each arcosolium contained two breadthwise hewn burial troughs (0.4 × 1.6 m, depth 0.4 m), separated by a partition (0.1 m).
The artifacts recovered from the troughs consisted of poorly preserved bones of the deceased and funerary offerings, including lamps, bracelets, beads and glass vessels. The plan of the cave is typical of the Byzantine period and the artifacts are also dated to the Byzantine and the Early Islamic periods. It should be noted that the cave was part of the ‘En Lavan site––a large ruin from the Byzantine period that encompasses the area of the spring.