web analytics
July 4, 2015 / 17 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


Beit Guvrin Caves and Maresha Declared UNESCO Heritage Site

The Beit Guvrin Caves and Maresha are the Eighth UNESCO Heritage Site in Israel

The Beit Guvrin caves and the ancient town of Maresha in central Israel have been recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a heritage site yesterday (Jun. 22) during its 38th World Heritage Committee in Doha, Qatar.

The manmade caves, known for their unique ‘bell caves’, represent the “land of a thousand caves” in the Judean lowlands, scattered over an area of ​​about 100 square kilometers.

The Beit Guvrin and Maresha caves join the White City of Tel-Aviv, the Biblical Tels of Megiddo, Hazor, Beer Sheba, the Incense Route and Desert Cities in the Negev, the Bahá’i Holy Places in Haifa and the Western Galilee, Masada the Old City of Acre and the Carmel caves as the eighth site to be recognized as a UNESCO Heritage site in Israel.

The World Heritage List includes 1,001 properties forming part of the cultural and natural heritage which the World Heritage Committee considers as having outstanding universal value.

Dr. Zvika Tsuk, chief archaeologist of Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority, stated after the announcement: “We are delighted that our professional opinion to declare the caves of Beit Guvrin as a World Heritage Site has been adopted by the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO. Much work has gone into preparing the case by officials and many others, which has eventually led to this success. Thanks to the large number of caves and their various types, as well as the duration for which they were used, spanning nearly 2,000 years, this special site has won recognition as an outstanding site of global value. ”

UNESCO crowned the Beit Guvrin caves as ‘a Microcosm of the Land of the Caves': “This ‘city under a city’ is characterized by a selection of man-made caves, excavated from the thick and homogenous layer of soft chalk in Lower Judea. It includes chambers and networks with varied forms and functions, situated below the ancient twin towns of Maresha and Beit Guvrin, that bear witness to a succession of historical periods of excavation and usage stretching over 2,000 years, from the Iron Age to the Crusades, as well as a great variety of subterranean construction methods. The original excavations were quarries, but these were converted for various agricultural and local craft industry purposes, including oil presses, columbaria (dovecotes), stables, underground cisterns and channels, baths, tomb complexes and places of worship , and hiding places during troubled times.

The ancient town of Maresha and Bet Guvrin are two main sites in a larger area of caves and hiding that existed just off the Via Maris during the Byzantine period. According to evidence produced by Prof. Yoram Zafrir, over 100,000 people lived in this area away from the main trade route. The main urban settlements in the Judean foothills were safely removed from the main Via Maris with its movements of conquering armies between Egypt and the Fertile Crescent. Maresha and Bet Guvrin, important ancient cities located in the basin of the Guvrin Stream, were highly populated in the Greco-Roman and Byzantine eras, and their unique natural formations were used as hiding places for the local population in conjunction with tels and neighboring towns. Maresha is mentioned among the cities of Judea noted in Joshua and as one of the cities fortified by Rehoboam against the incursion of Babylon into his kingdom: ‘And Rehoboam… built cities for defense in Judah. He built even Bethlehem…and Mareshah.”

During the Persian period, after the destruction of the First Temple, Maresha and all of southern Judea was settled by Edomites, who came from the southeast.

At the end of the 4th century B.C.E. Sidonians and Greeks came to Maresha, bringing the Hellenistic culture with them. In addition, isolated Egyptians and a few Jews lived there – refugees from the fall of the Temple and emigrants from the Coastal Plain. Thus was created the special fabric of society in this Hellenistic city, which was an important economic center. During the same period, the Lower City was built, and in it many caves were hewn. From historical sources and local excavations it became evident that in 113 BCE John Hyrcanus I, the Hasmonean, conquered Maresha and converted the residents of the city and its surroundings to Judaism. The upper and lower city became desolate ruins. However, Maresha recovered and was repopulated, but its settlement was sparse, and according to Josephus Flavius, it was finally demolished by the Parthian Army in 40 BCE. Beit Guvrin replaced Maresha as the most important settlement in the area. It is initially mentioned by Josephus Flavius in 68 CE as one of the towns conquered by the Roman general Vespasian. Following the destruction of the Second Temple, it continued to exist as a rather crowded Jewish settlement until the Bar-Kochva Revolt, 132-135 CE.

About the Author: Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Beit Guvrin Caves and Maresha Declared UNESCO Heritage Site”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
UN Human Rights Council
UN HRC Condemns Israel (But Not Hamas) for War Crimes
Latest News Stories
UN Human Rights Council

US alone voted no on UNHRC Resolution condemning only Israel for wrongdoing in last summer’s conflict.

Rocket that hit a field in the Eshkol region on July 3, 2015

Sinai terrorists expanded their range of attack Friday, aiming rocket fire at southern Israel as well.

breaking the silence

5:21 PM The rocket landed in a field in the Eshkol region. Apparently from Sinai. 5:06 PM Channel 1 reports that citizens say they saw the rocket fly over from Sinai. 4:49 PM IDF Spox says they believe only 1 rocket was launched. The IDF is examining if the rocket was launched from the Sinai. […]

US Secy of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif shake hands.

Iran is not budging in nuclear talks on its refusal to allow spot inspections of military sites.

Nothing like a Kosher frank for the 4th of July, even if this year, you have to cook it before Shabbat.

Nothing quite like Hamas terrorist supporters on the Temple Mount openly waving their flags..

Machsom Watch women came to harass IDF soldiers in Hebron but embarrassed themselves instead.

A Palestinian Authority Arab was shot and killed after he attacked an Israeli army commander driving in near Jerusalem.

The US Mennonite church votes to table an anti-Israel BDS resolution for two years.

Israel has tightened security and is on high alert for Friday Ramadan prayers.

An Arab man was caught by Border Police on his way to committing a terror attack in Hebron on Thursday night

PM Binyamin Netanyahu warns that Israel now faces a double threat: from ISIS and Iran.

The closing of the highway, comes after Israeli security officials voiced concern that Waliyat Sinai, the ISIS-affiliated terror group responsible for the attacks, may be planning to strike Israel as well.

Jerusalem’s Light Rail was attacked at least twice Thursday by Arabs hurling rocks in Shuafat — again.

Neo-Nazis who planned to march July 4 through London’s Golders Green section must now relocate to the city center.

Hamas apparently aided ISIS-linked Sinai terrorists in attacking Egyptian Army soldiers.

More Articles from Aryeh Savir, Tazpit News Agency
Arab youth throwing a firebomb at Jews.

Palestinian Authority terrorists set off a bomb at a bus stop in Samaria and threw two pipe bombs at passing Jewish drivers in Samaria on Sunday. No one was injured. Police sappers were called to the Rechalim Junction where the bomb exploded. They did not find any other explosive devices and still are searching for […]

The majority of the reactions are against the truce, and all voiced skepticism about its viability.

PA claims – ISIS founded by US in order to destabilize and take control of the Middle East.

“I was amazed and pleased that a rabbi would call the Islamization of Europe a good thing. Likewise I believe an all Jewish Europe would be a great thing too,” Turk said.

Tourism Minister Dr. Uzi Landau stated: “Israel is preparing for the ‘day after’.

Zeidan stated he supports Hamas, even as the missiles landed on his areas, [h]e cannot remain silent, even if [Hamas] missiles land on our heads.

As the cease fire deadline approaches, Hamas is threatening to reignite the further destruction of Gaza…

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/beit-guvrin-caves-and-maresha-declared-unesco-heritage-site/2014/06/23/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: