Maresha (Marissa), identified with Tell Sandahanna, is situated in the Judaean Shefelah, 35 km east of Ashkelon, about 2 km south of Bet Guvrin (fig. 1). It is mentioned in the Bible (Josh 15:44, 2 Chr 2:7-9, Micah 1:13-15) as well as in Josephus (Ant. 8.246). Maresha is also mentioned in the Zenon papyri (P. Cairo 59015, 58537) recording a journey undertaken by the Ptolemaic tax collector, Zenon, in 259 b.c.e. as well as by Eusebius, who located the site near Bet Guvrin (Onom. 130: 10). Tell Sandahanna has clearly been identified as Marissa by an inscription found in a necropolis in which Sidonians residing in Marissa are mentioned (Peters and Thiersch 1905). This identification has been verified by two Aramaic ostraca discovered in the subterranean complexes that mention the site's name as Maresha (Eshel 2010: 82). The site was partially excavated in 1900 by F. J. Bliss and R. A. S. Macalister (Bliss and Macalister 1902). Renewed excavations have been undertaken since the 1980s under the direction of A. Kloner and since 2000 under that of I. Stern and B. Alpert.
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1. Subterranean Complex 89, located 150 m southeast of Tel Maresha and 55 m south of SC61(Permit No. A-4687; map ref. NIG 190680/611086; OIG 140680/111086). The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology of Hebrew Union College, and financed by funds from the Archaeological Seminars Institute, was directed by Ian Stern and Bernie Alpert. Assisting in the excavation were Sonia Shaharit and Ludmilla Laborsky (pottery restoration, registration and organization), Ben Alpern (site supervisor), Julia Filipone Erez and Amitai Stern (drafting and drawing), and Asaf Stern and Amitai Stern (field and pottery photos). Engaged in the excavation were participants of the Archaeological Seminars Institute, tourists and youth-group volunteers, with the cooperation of Dr. Tsvika Tzuk and the staff of the Beit Guvrin National Park.
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