tel maresha caves of the idumeans

Tel Maresha Caves Reveal Lost World of the Idumeans

“Dig for a Day” & Israel Antiquities Authority excavate subterranean metropolis

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.
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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