The archaeological site contains some 3,500 underground chambers distributed among distinct complexes carved in the thick and homogenous soft chalk of Lower Judea under the former towns of Maresha and Bet Guvrin. Situated on the crossroads of trade routes to Mesopotamia and Egypt, the site bears witness to the region’s tapestry of cultures and their evolution over more than 2,000 years from the 8th century BCE—when Maresha, the older of the two towns was built—to the time of the Crusaders. These quarried caves served as cisterns, oil presses, baths, columbaria (dovecotes), stables, places of religious worship, hideaways and, on the outskirts of the towns, burial areas. Some of the larger chambers feature vaulted arches and supporting pillars.
Criteria for inclusion as a World Heritage Site
|v||To be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change.||All|
About the source: UNESCO
Within UNESCO's broad remit, this specialised agency of the UN works towards international cooperation agreements to secure the world's cultural and natural heritage, designating venues of exceptional value as World Heritage Sites.