In July 2012, the entrance to a rock-hewn burial cave was exposed in the course of an illicit excavation at the top of the northern slope of the spur, west of the center of the ancient village. When the robbers fled, they left behind an intact Herodian lamp.
The burial cave is hewn in the bedrock at the top of the northern slope of the spur. It has a hewn courtyard, and a smooth façade with an entrance surrounded by a stepped double frame (Figs. 1, 2). The entrance (width 0.6 m, height 0.7 m), which faces north, is 0.8 m above the level of the fill that covers the floor of the central burial chamber (length 2.6 m, width 2.4 m, height of ceiling above the alluvium fill c. 1.4 m). There was no sign of a step that would have facilitated entry. The northern wall of the burial chamber is straight whereas the other walls are curved. A rock-cut step in the southern part of the cave seems to indicate a standing pit in the center of the chamber, with burial benches arranged around it.
In the northeastern corner of the cave there is a loculus, or bone repository (length 1.4 m, width 0.7 m, height obscured by the alluvium), in which the robbers left an intact Herodian lamp (Fig. 3); such lamps are known from ceramic assemblages that date from the Early Roman period to the first third of the second century CE (Rosenthal and Sivan 1978:80).
The architectural elements of the burial cave include an entrance surrounded by a stepped frame, a standing pit and a loculus. All are common features in many of the tombs that were documented in the Jerusalem necropolis of the Late Second Temple period (Kloner and Zissu 2003). The Herodian lamp corroborates the assumption that the cave was adapted for burial in the Late Second Temple period, and was used by the residents of the large Jewish settlement at Bet Natif. The plan, of burial benches around a standing pit, may indicate that the cave had already been prepared in the second century CE (Kloner and Zelinger 2007).