Tel Maresha Caves Reveal Lost World of the Idumeans

Biblical Archaeology Society | 9/16/2013 | Staff
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Beneath Tel Maresha are thousands of manmade caves hewn from the soft chalk of the Judean foothills. These underground complexes supported the everyday needs of a multi-ethnic community of Idumeans, Judeans and Arabs. Photo by Garo Nalbandian.

Tel Maresha, located in the Judean foothills southwest of Jerusalem, exists on two levels—one a typical Hellenistic town; the other a subterranean metropolis of cave complexes. These caves, as described by archaeologist Ian Stern in the September/October 2013 issue of BAR, accommodated many of the everyday building, industrial and even ritual needs of a thriving, multi-ethnic community dominated by the Idumeans, the descendants of the Biblical Edomites.

Book - Joshua - Tel - Maresha - Century

Mentioned already in the Book of Joshua (15:44), Tel Maresha expanded greatly in the third century B.C.E. and became a well-planned Hellenistic city. The Idumeans and their neighbors outfitted the cave complexes below with a variety of industrial features, including columbaria for raising doves, olive presses for producing oil, and looms and dyeing bins for manufacturing textiles. What is more, the chalk excavated from the Tel Maresha caves supplied a ready source of fresh building material for the city above.

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Reasons - Archaeologists - Caves - Tel - Maresha

For reasons that archaeologists still can’t explain, the caves of Tel Maresha were found filled to the brim with earth and debris tossed down from the houses above. Without any complex stratigraphy to record, the excavation of the cave complexes is handled primarily by “Dig for a Day.” Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists supervise volunteers of all ages who...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Biblical Archaeology Society
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