Palestine Exploration Fund

Eagles with outstretched wings and elegant amphoras decorate the central chamber at the end of an elaborate cave tomb at Marisa, the Hellenistic city near Tell Sandahannah and the site of the Biblical Maresha, in the Judean foothills. The chamber features a doorway designed to look like a temple shrine, complete with flanking pilasters, a Doric frieze and triangular gable. The amphoras may refer to the cult of Dionysus, the god of revelry and wine who is also associated with the underworld.

The photo of the chamber is one of many taken by the first scholars to investigate the site a century ago. Unfortunately the photographs were all but forgotten, and time has damaged the cave paintings themselves, leaving us with no reliable record of their original appearance other than a somewhat fanciful set of colored lithographs published in 1905. In the accompanying article, David M. Jacobson describes his recent rediscovery of the original black-and-white photos in the archives of the Palestine Exploration Fund, in London. These never-before-published images are the starting point for a tour of the elaborate tomb at Marisa, and of a second, somewhat smaller but also elaborately decorated tomb nearby.