MAGNIFICENT MARESHA. During the Hellenistic period, some cities flourished. Maresha was one of them. Located between Jerusalem in the Judean hills and Gaza on the Mediterranean coast, Maresha served as a commercial center for the Ptolemies in the third century BCE and an administrative center for the Seleucids in the second century. Its inhabitants enjoyed many luxuries, including fine pottery, and buried their dead in decorated tombs. Carved from soft limestone and painted with animals and mythological creatures, the pictured cave-tomb contained a central burial chamber flanked by numerous burial niches. Eventually, the Maccabees captured the city, forced Jewish conversion on its inhabitants, and incorporated it into their kingdom.