During February 2002, a salvage excavation was conducted at Khirbat Beit Kufa, along the eastern shoulder of the Cross-Israel Highway (Permit No. A-3595; map ref. 19620–1/65302–4), following the discovery of an ancient road. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by M. Abu Fana, assisted by A. Hajian (surveying).
The site is located on a flat area in a valley covered with alluvium, where farming terraces, c. 600 m north of Tel Hadid and c. 50 m south of Site 77 of the Cross-Israel Highway survey, were documented.
The road (width c. 3 m), discovered at a depth of 0.8 m below surface, was covered with an accumulation of alluvial soil. The exposed road segment, paved with small fieldstones, was poorly preserved and oriented east–west. A row of fieldstones was exposed along its southern side, at a lower level than the damaged segment. This was probably the curb, whose upper part was robbed, which marked the road on the south. Remains of an ancient road were discovered on surface c. 0.5 km west of the Cross-Israel Highway. It seems that the two segments were parts of the same road. A few fragments of pottery vessels that dated to the Byzantine period and a rim fragment from the Ottoman period were discovered between the pavement stones. The meager ceramic finds are insufficient for dating the road’s construction or the period of its use.
At Tel Hadid, which is next to the road, antiquities that dated to the Iron Age, Byzantine and Early Islamic periods were discovered. A small village (Site 77) that dated to the Byzantine and Abbasid periods was excavated north of the road and in its vicinity, a limekiln and farming terraces were excavated (ESI 20:134*). A large site, dating to the Byzantine period, is a little farther west, at Bet Nabala. The large sites attest to extensive agricultural and commercial activity around the road in the Byzantine period. Remains of roads that led from Antipatris to Jerusalem and from Lod to Jerusalem (Roll and Ayalon, Apollonia and the Southern Sharon, 1989:222–228) had previously been discovered near the excavation. The main roads were paved in high areas, yet the exposed road section in the current excavation was built in a low farmland, adjacent to the wadi channel. Based on the finds and the size of the stones, it is assumed that this was a local road, used by farmers or for transit between nearby settlements. It seems that it served the neighboring settlements in the Byzantine period, possibly from Site 77 or from Tel Hadid to the outlying agricultural areas.