A short account of Maresha, given by your Israel & Jerusalem private tour guide

Maresha is one of the ancient cities that developed on a hill. It grew in elevation because of successive constructions and destructions of the cities that used to be on this hill. This resulted in the formation of a tel. Even though the city was no larger than 6 acres, the tel can be seen from far away, standing high and having a 360-degree commanding view of the Judean Hills, mountains, coastal plains and the highway from the coast to the mountains.

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A bit of history

In the Bible, Maresha is first mentioned with the conquests of Joshua in the 13th century BCE. Later, during the time of the First Temple, Maresha was also mentioned as one of the border cities of the Kingdom of Judah. Destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, it was resettled with Edomite and Phoenician pagans. During the Hellenistic era, in the 3rd century BCE, the city left the tel’s top and its residents resettled on the slopes all around the hill, growing to the size of 100 acres, and having at least 10,000 people.

At the end of the 2nd century BCE, at the period of the Second Temple and under the Maccabee rule, Maresha became a Jewish city through forced conversion. In 40 BCE, it was destroyed in a civil war, and was never resettled. Instead, a Jewish town named Beit Guvrin was built nearby, but it was also destroyed during the Great Revolt against the Romans (66-70 CE).

In short – Jewish Beit Guvrin was replaced by the Roman great city of Eleutropolis, which was later replaced by a Crusader fortress, replaced again by the Arab village, Beit Jubrin, which was replaced after 1948 with Kibbutz Beit Guvrin.

What can we see on this tour?

  • The amazing view from top of the tel
  • Remains of 3rd century BCE houses
  • Every home had at least one man-made cave that was dug under the house into the soft chalky rock. Most of these thousands of caves were used as water cisterns, but were also used for other purposes. We are going to see a set of beautiful cisterns and caves of other kinds, including a unique burial cave.
  • As a fabulous family activity, we can have a real archaeological dig in one of the caves, which will result in many authentic finds!

  • For instance, a family dig uncovered pieces of the important Heliodorus inscription (connected the Maccabee Revolt), that is now displayed in the Israel Museum.

  • The Bell Caves. These are huge caves dug in the chalky rock. The material that was excavated was used to produce lime for commercial purposes.

  • See the Crusader fortress.

Because it is a very important site, in 2014, UNESCO designated Maresha – Beit Guvrin a World Heritage Site.

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