Tel Maresha (Hebrew: תל מראשה‎) is the tell (archaeological mound) of the biblical Iron Age city of Maresha, and of the subsequent, post-586 BCE Idumean city known by its Hellenised name Marisa,[1] Arabised as Marissa (ماريسا).[2] The tell is situated in Israel's Shephelah region, i.e. in the foothills of the Judaean Mountains. It was first excavated in 1898-1900 by the British archaeologists Bliss and Macalister on behalf of the Palestine Exploration Fund and again after 1989 by Israeli archaeologist Amos Kloner on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.[1] The majority of the artifacts of the British excavation are to be found today in the Istanbul Archaeology Museums.

This site is now protected as part of Bet Guvrin-Maresha National Park and recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.[3]

Caves of Maresha
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Maresha: Northern Cemetery
LocationShfela, Israel,
Part ofCaves of Maresha and Bet-Guvrin in the Judean Lowlands as a Microcosm of the Land of the Caves
CriteriaCultural: (v)
Inscription2014 (38th Session)
Coordinates31°35′35″N 34°53′54″E / 31.59306°N 34.89833°ECoordinates: 31°35′35″N 34°53′54″E / 31.59306°N 34.89833°E
Maresha is located in Israel
Location of Maresha in Israel


Iron Age to Hellenistic Period

Maresha was one of the cities of Judah during the time of the First Temple and is mentioned among the conquests of the ancient Israelites in the Book of Joshua and later in the Books of Chronicles as one of King Rehoboam's fortifications. According to the Madaba Map, Maresha was the place "whence came Micah the Prophet."[4] In the 6th century BCE, as result of Zedekiah's rebellion against the Babylonian kingdom and its king Nebuchadnezzar II, the latter occupied the Judean kingdom and sent many of its inhabitants into exile. This marked the end of Maresha as a Judahite city.

Tel Maresha - Subterranean Columbarium
The Columbarium at Tel Maresha

Following these events, Edomites who had lived east and south of the Dead Sea migrated to the area. Hence, from the Persian rule and throughout the Hellenistic kingdoms' rule in the region (6th – 1st century BCE), Maresha was part of the area known as Idumea, a Hellenised form of Edom.

Maresha emerged as a major Idumean city and with the conquest of the region by Alexander the Great the city was settled by retired Greek soldiers as was then custom. Thus Maresha developed as a Hellenistic city encompassing a multitude of Greek and oriental cultures including Sidonians and Nabataeans. With the advent of Hellenisation, the settlement pattern changed, as most everywhere in the region, and the city expanded far beyond the constraints of the fortified, raised tell or mound of Iron Age Maresha.

Decline and fall

Tel Maresha 032116
Tel Maresha

The city began its decline during the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire (2nd century BCE) when the city was used as base to combat the rebels.[5]

Following the rebellion and its success, it is believed that John Hyrcanus conquered the city in 112 BCE, forcibly converting its inhabitants.[6]

In 63 BCE, as part of the arrangements made by Pompey in the region, Maresha, along with all of Edom, was separated from the Jewish kingdom and returned to Idumea. In 47 BCE Julius Caesar then annexed the city to Judea.[7]

Maresha was finally destroyed in 40 BCE by the Parthians as part of the power struggle between Antigonus of the Hasmoneans who had sought their aid and Herod, who was a son of the converted Antipater the Idumaean and was being supported by the Romans.

After Maresha: Beth Gabra/Eleutheropolis

After the demise of Maresha, the neighbouring Idumean/Jewish town of Beth Gabra or Beit Guvrin succeeded it as the main settlement in the area. Shaken by two successive and disastrous Jewish revolts against Roman rule in the 1st and 2nd centuries, the town recovered its importance only at the beginning of the 3rd century when it was re-established as a Roman city under the new name of Eleutheropolis. By the time of Eusebius of Caesarea (d. 340 CE), Maresha itself was already a deserted place: he mentions the city in his Onomasticon, saying that it was at a distance of "two milestones from Eleutheropolis".

Modern era

The Palestinian Arab village Bayt Jibrin, standing on the site of ancient Eleutheropolis, was depopulated during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. In 1949 Kibbutz Beit Guvrin was established on part of Bayt Jibrin's lands. Most of the archaeologically important areas of ancient Maresha and Beit Guvrin/Eleutheropolis are now part of the Beit Guvrin-Maresha National Park.


Sidonian Burial Caves 036
Decorated burial cave at Tel Maresha

Archaeological excavations have been conducted at the site since 2002, continuing as late as 2010, and 2013–2014, by Alpert Berni and Stern Ian on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).[8] Less than 10 percent of the caves on Tel Maresha have been excavated. Located some 1,300 feet above sea level, the ground is chalky and soft, lending itself to the digging of caves which were used as quarries, burial grounds, animal shelters, workshops and spaces for raising doves and pigeons. Many of the caves are linked by an underground maze of passageways.[9]

Tel Maresha and national park

Today Maresha is part of the Israeli national park of Beit Guvrin. Many of the ancient city's olive presses, columbaria and water cisterns can still be seen. Furthermore, the Archaeological Seminars Institute, under the license of the Israel Antiquities Authority, conducts excavations of Maresha's many quarried systems, and invites visitors to participate.

See also


  1. ^ a b Avraham Negev and Shimon Gibson (2001). Mreshah (Tell); Marissa; Sandahannah (Tell). Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land. New York and London: Continuum. p. 315. ISBN 0-8264-1316-1.
  2. ^ The Interpreter's Bible,1956, Abingdon Press, Volume VI, page 897
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^ Mysterious Caves of Maresha by Ian Stern at Three fragments of a Greek inscription, believed to be part of the Heliodoros stele were recently found at an Israel Antiquities Authority excavation at the National Park of Beit Guvrin.
  6. ^ Josephus book xxii chapter 9 paragraph 1
  7. ^ David Noel Freedman, Allen C. Myers, Astrid B. Beck (2000) Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible ISBN 0-8028-2400-5 p 856
  8. ^ Israel Antiquities Authority, Excavators and Excavations Permit for Year 2010, Survey Permit # A-5808; Excavators and Excavations Permit for Year 2013, Survey Permit # A-6701; Excavators and Excavations Permit for Year 2014, Survey Permit # A-7015
  9. ^ Amateur Archaeologists Get the Dirt on the Past, New York Times


  • Kloner, Amos, Maresha Excavations Final Report I: Subterranean Complexes 21, 44, 70 (Jerusalem, Israel Antiquities Authority, 2003).
  • Jacobson, D. M., The Hellenistic Paintings of Marisa (London, Palestine Exploration Fund, 2005).

External links

859 Syrian coasts earthquake

The 859 Syrian coasts earthquake took place in the coasts of the region of Syria in the year 859 or 860 CE (Hijri year 245).

There are various estimated dates for the earthquake, ranging from 8 April 859 to 27 March, 860. There are several accounts of this earthquake affecting the cities of Acre (Akka), Adana, Antioch, Baghdad, Balisum, Buka, Harrana, Homs (Emesa), Madatinum, Maresha (Marisa), Rasulaicum, Samandağ, and Uti. Besides Syria, other reportedly affected areas were Anatolia (Asia Minor), the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt, and Palestine. All accounts speak of great property damage and loss of life. The journal Annals of Geophysics considers it probable that the effects of several earthquakes were conflated into a narrative of a single great earthquake. It assigns more importance to an account of an earthquake taking place in November, 869 (in the month Sha'ban of the Islamic calendar. At that time, a reportedly strong earthquake affected the Syrian coasts, between Antioch and Acre. The historian Al-Suyuti (16th century) reported that the earthquake shattered an entire mountain in the vicinity of Antioch. The remains of the mountain reportedly fell into the Mediterranean Sea, taking with them 1005 houses and 90 villages. The same account of the shattered mountain appears in the works of Al-Tabari (9th-10th century), George Elmacin (13th century) Bar Hebraeus (13th century). They report that the mountain was called "Acraus" or "Rock". But they place this mountain closer to Acre than to Antioch. Accounts of this earthquake mention that the collapse of the mountain into the sea, was followed by the withdrawal of the sea water from the coast. Then the water returned, surging to the shores. This is likely a description of a tsunami. The description of the event is similar to the description of a 551 tsunami provided by George Kedrenos (11th century).


Adurim is a town mentioned in the Bible and the Apocrypha and related information. This town is listed by different sources as Adurim, Adoraim, Adora and Dora. During the Roman era, the city was inhabited by Esau's descendants. Today, the place corresponds with Dura, near Hebron.

Amos Kloner

Amos Kloner (February 26, 1940 – March 16, 2019) was an Israeli archaeologist and professor emeritus.

Archaeological Seminars Institute

Archaeological Seminars Institute, Ltd. is a private company based in Jerusalem, Israel that deals with archaeology and tourism. Founded in 1981 by archaeologist Bernie Alpert and his wife, Fran Alpert, as an educational tourist facility and joined in 1985 by archaeologist Dr. Ian Stern, Archaeological Seminars Institute runs the “Dig for a Day” program in Maresha and hires out licensed tour guides for private walking tours.

The company also ran an official English-language tour guide course for ten years.

“Dig for a Day” is a three-hour family activity that includes participating in an official archaeological excavation, licensed by the Israel Antiquities Authority, in one of the thousands of caves in the area of Maresha. Following an introductory explanation that provides context for the excavation, the participants then descend into one of the subterranean complexes. Inside these caves they excavate and then, above ground, sift through the material they have dug up. Afterwards, they go on a tour (a “crawl”) of an unexcavated cave system. Each group has its own guide for the duration of the activity. The dig ends with a short summation describing some of the most important finds, some of which are now displayed in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.Clients pay for the activity which provides funds for the ongoing excavation as well as paying for staff. Many participants consider the dig “the highlight” of their visit to Israel.Archaeological Seminars Institute is now run by Dr. Ian Stern and his wife, Heidi Stern. The Maresha Excavation Project is operated as a full-fledged research project under the academic umbrella of the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

Battle of Zephath

The Battle of Zephath, according to the Bible, occurred during the dates of 911-870 BCE, in the reign of King Asa of Judah. It was fought at the Valley of Zephath near Maresha in what is now Israel, between the armies of the Kingdom of Judah under the command of King Asa and that of the Kushites and ancient Egyptians under the command of Zerah the Ethiopian who, given the time frame with Asa's reign, may either be Pharaoh Osorkon II or Osorkon I. The warriors of Judah were victorious in the battle after utterly defeating the Egyptians and Kushites, which the Bible attributes to divine intervention, and Asa's forces collected a large volume of war spoils. Asa's forces pursued the enemy stragglers as far as the coastal city of Gerar, where they halted due to exhaustion. The result of the battle created peace between Judah and Egypt until the time of Josiah some centuries later, when the latter would again make encroachments in the region.

Bayt Jibrin

Bayt Jibrin (Arabic: بيت جبرين‎, also transliterated Beit Jibrin; Hebrew: בית גוברין, Beit Gubrin), was a Palestinian Arab village located 21 kilometers (13 mi) northwest of the city of Hebron. The village had a total land area of 56,185 dunams or 56.1 km2 (13,900 acres), of which 0.28 km2 (69 acres) were built-up while the rest remained farmland.During the 8th century BCE, the village was part of the Kingdom of Judah. During the days of Jewish king Herod the town was the administrative center for the district of Idumea. After the turmoil of the First Jewish-Roman War and the Bar Kokhba revolt the town became a thriving Roman colony and a major administrative center under the name of Eleutheropolis. In the early 7th century CE, Bayt Jibrin was conquered by Muslim forces led by 'Amr ibn al-'As. Under the Crusaders in the 12th century, it was known as Beth Gibelin, and had a population of 1,500, compared to 100-150 in the average village of the time.

It fell to the Mamluks and then the Ottoman Turks. In the 19th century, the al-'Azza family took control of Bayt Jibrin and unsuccessfully attempted to rebel against the Ottomans, ending in the exile and execution of local leaders.

Under the British Mandate of Palestine, Bayt Jibrin again served as a district center for surrounding villages. It was captured by Israeli forces during the 1948 War, causing its inhabitants to flee eastward. Today, many of the refugees of Bayt Jibrin and their descendants live in the Bayt Jibrin and Fawwar camps in the southern West Bank. The kibbutz of Beit Guvrin was established on Bayt Jibrin's lands in 1949. The caves of Bayt Jibrin have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Beit Guvrin

Beit Guvrin may refer to a succession of settlements and their archaeological remains, in proper chronology: Maresha, Beit Guvrin, Eleutheropolis, Bethgibelin, Bayt Jibrin, Kibbutz Beit Guvrin and Beit Guvrin National Park.

Maresha, city from the Iron Age to the Early Roman period; its remains are now part of Bet Guvrin-Maresha National Park, Israel

Eleutheropolis, adjacent Roman and Byzantine city which followed the Judean/Idumean city of Beit Guvrin

Beit Guvrin National Park, encompassing the ruins of the above cities

Bayt Jibrin, a Palestinian village depopulated in 1948

Beit Guvrin, Israel, a kibbutz founded in 1949

Beit Guvrin, Israel

Beit Guvrin (Hebrew: בֵּית גֻּבְרִין, lit. House of Men in Aramaic) is a kibbutz in the Lakhish region, west of the ancient city of Beit Guvrin, for which it is named. Located 14 kilometres east of Kiryat Gat, it falls under the jurisdiction of Yoav Regional Council. In 2018 it had a population of 414.

Beit Guvrin National Park

For the history of the site see in chronological order Maresha, Beit Guvrin, Eleutheropolis, Bethgibelin, Bayt Jibrin, Kibbutz Beit Guvrin and Beit Guvrin National ParkBeit Guvrin-Maresha National Park is a national park in central Israel, 13 kilometers from Kiryat Gat, encompassing the ruins of Maresha, one of the important towns of Judah during the time of the First Temple, and Beit Guvrin, an important town in the Roman era, when it was known as Eleutheropolis.Archaeological artifacts unearthed at the site include a large Jewish cemetery, a Roman-Byzantine amphitheater, a Byzantine church, public baths, mosaics and burial caves.

Chezib of Judah

Chezib, also known as Achziv of Judah (Hebrew: אכזיב; כזיב), is a biblical place-name associated with the birth of Judah's son, Shelah (Genesis 38:5), corresponding to the Achziv of the Book of Joshua (15:44), a town located in the low-lying hills of the plain of Judah, known as the Shefela. In I Chronicles 4:22, the town is rendered as Chozeba. The place is now a ruin.

Cities in the Book of Joshua

The Book of Joshua lists almost 400 ancient Levantine city names (including alternative names and derivatives in the form of words describing citizens of a town) which refer to over 300 distinct locations in Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Each of those cities, with minor exceptions (e.g. Hamath, Gubla) is placed in one of the 12 regions, according to the tribes of Israel and in most cases additional details like neighbouring towns or geographical landmarks are provided. It has been serving as one of the primary sources for identifying and locating a number of Middle Bronze to Iron Age Levantine cities mentioned in ancient Egyptian and Canaanite documents, most notably in the Amarna correspondence.

Digging stick

In archaeology and anthropology, a digging stick, or sometimes yam stick, is a wooden implement used primarily by subsistence-based cultures to dig out underground food such as roots and tubers or burrowing animals and anthills. The stick may also have other uses in hunting or general domestic tasks.

They are common to the Indigenous Australians but also other peoples worldwide. The tool normally consists of little more than a sturdy stick which has been shaped or sharpened and perhaps hardened by being placed temporarily in a fire. Fashioned with handles for pulling or pushing, it forms a prehistoric plow, and is also a precursor of most modern agricultural handtools.It is a simple device, and has to be tough and hardy in order not to break.


For the history of the site see in chronological order Maresha, Beit Guvrin, Eleutheropolis, Bethgibelin, Bayt Jibrin, Kibbutz Beit Guvrin and Beit Guvrin National ParkEleutheropolis (Greek, Ελευθερόπολις, "Free City") was a Roman and Byzantine city in Syria Palaestina, some 53 km southwest of Jerusalem. Its remains still straddle the ancient road connecting Jerusalem to Gaza and are now located within the Beit Guvrin National Park.

Geology of Israel

The geology of Israel includes igneous and metamorphic crystalline basement rocks from the Precambrian overlain by a lengthy sequence of sedimentary rocks extending up to the Pleistocene and overlain with alluvium, sand dunes and playa deposits.

Hevel Lakhish

Hevel Lakhish (Hebrew: חבל לכיש‎, lit. Lakhish Region) is an area of south-central Israel. Part of the southern Shephelah, it is located between the Judean Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea and is named after the Biblical city of Lachish.

List of World Heritage Sites in Israel

This is a list of World Heritage Sites in Israel with properties of cultural and natural heritage in Israel as inscribed in UNESCO's World Heritage List or as on the country's tentative list.


Marissa can refer to:

Maresha or Marissa, an ancient city in Israel

Marissa, Illinois, a town in Illinois

Marissa Township, St. Clair County, Illinois

Marissa (name), a female given name, including a list of persons and fictional characters with the name

Vita Marissa (born 1981), Indonesian badminton player


Moresheth (Hebrew: מוֹרֶשֶׁת גַּת), also known as Moreseth-Gath, was a town of the tribe of Judah in ancient Israel mentioned in the Bible. It was located in the Shephelah region between Lachish and Achzib.

Tourism in Israel

Tourism in Israel is one of Israel's major sources of income, with a record 3.6 million tourist arrivals in 2017, and 25 percent growth since 2016 and contributed NIS 20 billion to the Israeli economy making it an all-time record. Israel offers a plethora of historical and religious sites, beach resorts, archaeological tourism, heritage tourism and ecotourism. Israel has the highest number of museums per capita in the world. In 2009, the two most visited sites were the Western Wall and the grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai;

the most popular paid tourist attraction is Masada. The most visited city is Jerusalem and the most visited site was the Western Wall. The largest percentage of tourists come from the United States accounting for 19% of all tourists, followed by Russia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, China, Italy, Poland, and Canada.

East Jerusalem


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