Courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority

A MIXED MULTITUDE. Excavation of the caves has revealed hundreds of ostraca inscribed in Aramaic, Greek and Hebrew containing more than 1,300 personal names from Maresha’s diverse community of Idumeans, Judeans, Arabs and Phoenicians. The eight-line Aramaic inscription, for example, lists 11 different names that reflect Maresha’s diversity, including the Idumean name Qosnatan (“Qos has given”), the Nabatean Arab name Ab-Awsu (“father of Awsu”) and a possible form of the Hebrew name Shemaryahu (“protection of Yahweh”).