Courtesy Assaf Stern/Archaeological Seminars Institute

SHARED CULTURE. Josephus records that following Maresha’s conquest by the Hasmonean ruler John Hyrcanus, the Idumeans of Maresha were forced to convert to Judaism and to be circumcised. The discovery of 17 circumcised chalk phalli in the Maresha caves, however, suggests that knives were not the main tool of this conversion. Rather, the phalli, which predate the Hasmonean conquest, indicate the Idumeans already practiced circumcision (as did their Edomite ancestors before them, according to Jeremiah 9:24–25) and therefore may well have converted to Judaism voluntarily, especially considering other cultural commonalities.