Room 19 is a large room (length on western side 2.9, length on eastern side 6.2 m, height is 7.1 m) which in an early stage was separated into two rooms.On the upper level of the wall were niches that remain from a weathered or worn columbarium. Four openings (E1–E4; Fig. 3: Sections 1–1, 3–3) were cut along the southern side of the room, through the columbarium. Openings E1–E3 are found at about 3 m from the ceiling; the fourth entrance (E4) is above E2.
Bottle openings (silos) were quarried through what was initially the floor level of the columbarium (Fig. 3: Section 3–3). Evidence of this floor level is visible in the large apse-like outlines of the bottleneck areas found throughout the lower half of the room. A ridge-like protrusion (Fig. 3: Sections 2–2, 3–3) along part of the northern wall, at the level of the top of these silos, appears to be the remains of the floor of the complex during that stage of its use.
The bell-shaped remains of the cave wall on the eastern side of the room was originally the wall separated the two rooms; it was later quarried away (Fig. 3: Section 1–1). Stairs were quarried into the bedrock on the eastern side of the room. The staircase was only partially excavated for fear of collapse. A large portion of the ceiling above the northeastern side of the room collapsed in antiquity. A poorly built soft limestone wall (height c. 1 m) was set along the northwestern wall, inside of what appears to be the apse-like remains of another silo. The quarry marks in the floor suggest that the room was used as a quarry in its final stage, when the space was combined into one room.
The architectural evidence indicates that Room 19 was used over five stages (1–5). In Stage 1 it served as a columbarium. In Stage 2, two entranceways were quarried through the south wall (E2, E3), connecting to Room 20, and a third entranceway (E1) was quarried to the west (Fig. 3: Section 1–1). At this stage, silos were quarried into the floor and walls. In Stage 3, the floor in the eastern room was lowered, and stairs were hewed into bedrock. In Stage 4, the rooms were combined, and the entire area became a quarry. During Stage 5, the room was filled in with debris from the surface.
Room 20. The western side of the room contains a ledge (3 × 6 m), oriented northwest–southeast, above a bell-shaped quarry (Room 20A; Fig. 3: Section 1–1). Trough-like installations found in the southwestern corner of the ledge may have been part of a stable (L) or perhaps served some industrial function. Along the northern wall, above and to the east of the quarry, is another trough. On the northern side of this ledge is a bottleneck opening that was originally a silo (K); this silo was later enlarged into a quarry (20A), which included hewn steps that angle towards the center of the room. Openings to two silos were revealed immediately beneath the top of the stairs (M, N); one of them continues under the niche on the south side of the room (N). The top stairs were half-broken and covered the opening to the silo, evidence that the silo preceded the last quarry stage.
On the eastern side of the northern wall, a reddish line appears to be the remains of a floor level that is contiguous with the level of the ledge (Fig. 3: Section 4–4). Columbarium niches are apparent on the walls of the room. Openings E2 and E3, between Rooms 19 and 20 appear to be contiguous with the floor level of the bottleneck openings, as is Opening E1 which does not connect to Room 20. Opening E4, which is contiguous with both the ledge in Room 20 and the floor of Silo Opening K, was probably hewn in order to connect the two rooms at a later stage.
The southern extension of Room 20 (6 × 7 m) consists of two levels (Fig. 4). An entranceway with a threshold in the back wall of the upper level led into a series of rooms (65–70), in which three cisterns and two baths were hewn. On the same level as the upper threshold (above the lower level) were feeding troughs and animal ties. A depression in the rock (diam. 1.2 m) was found on the upper level. The threshold level, at one time the floor level of the room, was quarried 0.4 m down, creating a ledge. Three rectangular quarried blocks of soft limestone blocks were found in situ. Remains of a kiln (diam. 0.43 m, depth 0.7 m) were found on the lower level; a wall six courses high surrounded it. A stopper removed from the bottom of the kiln revealed a large cavity set below the kiln that provided it with air; originally a silo, it contained ash, likely from the kiln.
Resembling Room 19 in its chronology, Room 20 evidenced six stages (1–6). In Stage 1 it served as a Columbarium. In Stage 2, the columbarium went out of use and was backfilled. What appears to be animal troughs and ties as well as the upper silo (K) were created at this stage. This was done at a level higher than the original floor in the columbarium, as indicated by the red line. The niche on the upper level of the southern extension and the ledge on the western side of the niche were also hewn at this stage. At Stage 3, the cave was deepened again. Two silos were hewn into the floor, one on the southwestern side and another into the floor by the lower level of the southern extension. In addition, a trough was hewn into the northern wall of the room. At Stage 4, the floor was further deepened and used as a quarry (Room 20A); Silo K on the ledge was quarried away in the process. The central area was later backfilled with soft limestone chips from the quarry. In Stage 5, pottery production may have taken place in these rooms, as indicted by the remains of a Kiln N, wasters and a possible fragment of a potter’s wheel. During Stage 6 the room was filled in with debris from the surface.
Room 21 was originally a square, niche-type columbarium that was part of a larger columbarium extending into Room 20. A large niche was cut into the columbarium in the northeast corner of the room. An opening in the same corner leads to Room 23 (not excavated). It appears that the northern wall was completely removed when a shaft leading to the surface was enlarged.
Room 22 (Fig. 2) has a central corridor with a cistern (not excavated) on its northern side, and a lower section on its southern side that leads, due to a break in its southern wall, into another cistern. The central corridor is divided from the side rooms to its north and south by a series of pillars, between which are the remains of trough-like installations or depressions. The excavation in this room focused primarily on the southeast corner (c. 3 × 8 m), which is oriented in an east–west direction. It contains a small staircase that runs north–south and turn to the west at the bottom. The corner is plastered and contains two plastered niches in its eastern wall (0.7 × 1.3 m, depth 0.6 m; 0.35 × 0.4 m, depth 0.35 m). A drainage channel was carved into the eastern and southern walls, 0.7 m from the floor and extending to the west. This led to a small, plastered bath-like structure that was possibly an industrial vat.
Like almost all other subterranean complexes excavated at Maresha, Subterranean Complex 1 contained unstratified anthropogenic debris dumped from the surface. The vast majority of the finds in all the loci can be dated to the late third and second centuries BCE. Since most of the ceramic material is similar to that discussed in earlier Maresha reports (Levine 2003a
), only a representative sample is presented below. The other finds—glass vessels, amphorae handles, as well as figurines (see Appendix I), Greek inscriptions (see Appendix II) and coins (see Appendix III)—have been published or are in the process of being published, and therefore will only be summarized and briefly cited here.
Pottery (Figs. 5, 6). Almost all the ceramic finds date to the late third and second centuries BCE. A small number can be dated to the fourth century BCE and earlier: two Iron Age II bowls (Fig. 5:1, 2) and a krater and bowl of the Persian-period (Fig. 5:3, 4). The ceramic assemblage from the Hellenistic period comprises thousands of diagnostic potsherds and complete vessels, which consist primarily of household wares, mostly bowls. The vast majority of the vessels were undecorated, incurved-rim bowls (Fig. 6:4). This type has a broad chronological range, dating from the fourth to the firstcentury BCE. The second most common vessel was the decorated incurved-rim bowl, dated primarily to the second century BCE (Fig. 6:5). Other bowls include fishplates (Fig. 6:6)—many locally made, as indicated by the tiny soft limestone grits in the clay—which are dated to the late second century BCE; locally made bowls with horizontal “bow handles,” dated to the mid-second century BCE; and plain-ware saucers (Fig. 6:7), also dated to the mid-second century BCE.
In addition, the assemblage includes globular cooking pots (Fig. 6:8); casseroles, which date to the fourth–second centuries BCE; lids; jugs (Fig. 6:10); juglets (Fig. 6:11, 12); and unguentaria (Fig. 6:15, 16), most of which date to the second century BCE. Remains of storage jars, amphorae, feeders (Fig. 6:13), amphoriskoi (Fig. 6:14), pot stands (Fig. 6:17), funnels (Fig. 6:18) and medicine bowls (Fig. 6:19) that date from the second half of the second century BCE.
The imported pottery included black-glazed Attic ware (Fig. 6:1); vessels of West Slope technique (Fig. 6:9), BSP ware, ESA-ware, and Campana A ware; as well as mold-made bowls (Fig. 6:2, 3; Yogev-Neuman 2008
). All of these date primarily from the third to the second half of the second century BCE.
(Fig. 7).The 248 oil lamps dating to the Hellenistic period were almost evenly divided between mold-made lamps (133; 54%) and wheel-made lamps (115; 46%). Thirty-three (13%) are lamps attached to kernoi (Fig. 7:1). Among the wheel-made lamps are the so-called “Shephelah” lamp (Fig. 7:2), with its characteristic short nozzle and globular body, and the “Rhodian” lamp (Fig. 7:3). Ninety of the mold-made lamps had one knob, ten had two knobs, four had three knobs and three had none. The majority of these lamps are dolphiniform lamps (Fig. 7:4). Ten of the lamps were imported from Egypt or were influenced by Egyptian-style lamps (Fig. 7:7). Six of the lamps did not exhibit any signs of burning (cf. Ambar-Armon 2007
The relatively large quantity of wheel-made lamps corresponds to the widespread discovery of such lamps in almost all third-century BCE excavated sites in Israel. Mold-made lamps began to appear at this time, but in smaller numbers. By the second century BCE, however, the mold-made lamp becomes the dominant oil lamp in most sites (Fig. 7:5, 6; for a complete discussion see Ambar-Armon, forthcoming
The relatively large number of wheel-made lamps in Subterranean Complex 1 may be explained in a number of ways. This unusual ratio of wheel-made vs. mold-made lamps could suggest that the dwelling above this particular complex was inhabited in an earlier Hellenistic stage. Since there are no remains above the Subterranean Complex, this is difficult to say with certainty. Alternately, it may indicate a resistance to change by part of the population of Maresha, with the continued use of these lamps reflecting their desire to retain certain older traditions.
While no whole Persian period or Iron Age II lamps were found, fragments of 62 Persian period lamps and 6 Iron Age II lamps were uncovered, further testimony to the pre-Hellenistic period presence in Lower Maresha.
Eleven glass fragments were uncovered (Jackson-Tal, forthcoming
). In addition to fragments of bowls, the most noteworthy glass objects are one greenish finger ring and one cobalt blue astragalus that served as a game piece.
Sixty stamped Hellenistic-period amphora handles (excluding fragments) were uncovered in Subterranean Complex 1. They consist of 54 Rhodian (93%), two Cypriot, two Knidian (both early), one from Ephesus and one from Brindisi (both late) origin (7%). The majority are dated to the first half of the second century BCE (65%), with only 18% from the last third of the third century BCE. There were very few outliers from the mid-third century BCE and the end of the second century BCE, each accounting for 8.3% of the stamped amphora-handle assemblage. It may be suggested that most of the fragments are from refuse that was disposed of from the Lower City, mainly during the mid-second century BCE.