Iron Age II (1000–586 B.C.E.)

Israelites settle in Maresha. Excavations in the upper city reveal walls and fortifications from the eighth to sixth century B.C.E. The population starts to dig caves.

Exilic Period (586–539 B.C.E.)

The Edomites expand into southern Judah, which comes to be known as Idumea. The Jewish population of the site is probably assimilated by the Edomites.

Persian Period (539–332 B.C.E.)

Maresha becomes the most important center and the capital of Idumea. Upper city excavations reveal walls from the fifth and fourth centuries B.C.E. Phoenicians from Sidon, on the Lebanese coast, settle in Maresha in the fourth century B.C.E.

Hellenistic Period (332–112 B.C.E.)

Alexander the Great conquers Judea in 332 B.C.E.; Greeks settle in Maresha and fortify the upper city. As the population increases to between 6,000 and 10,000, the Greeks build a partially walled lower city with an extensive warren of caves.

After Alexander’s death in 323 B.C.E., the Seleucid dynasty rises to power in Syria and the Ptolemies in Egypt; Judea becomes a battlefield between the two empires. The Ptolemies dominate Maresha in the third century B.C.E., and Maresha becomes a major supplier of olive oil to Egypt. Trade changes, however, when the Seleucids gain control of the region in 200 B.C.E.

Hasmonean rule (112–37 B.C.E.)

The Hasmonean ruler John Hyrcanus (134–104 B.C.E.) destroys Maresha in 112 B.C.E. as he expands Judea’s borders to include Idumea to the south, Samaria to the north and territory east of the Jordan. Residents are forced to convert to Judaism or leave.

In 40 B.C.E., after Rome conquers the Seleucid empire, the Parthians (allies of the Hasmonean leader Antigonus Mattathias) destroy Maresha as part of a campaign against Herod.

Maresha remains unsettled except for brief periods in the Byzantine and early Moslem periods.

Roman Period (37 B.C.E.–312 C.E.)

During the Second Jewish Revolt against Rome in 132–135 C.E., residents of nearby Beit Guvrin cut low narrow passages and square rooms at Maresha to serve as hiding and storage places.