An extensive analysis of the Maria family is presented. A reconstruction of the original ejection velocity field of the fragments suggests that a substantial amount of relatively large fragments has been probably injected into the neighbouring 3/1 mean motion resonance with Jupiter. This is also confirmed by an analysis of the size distribution of the family, suggesting that about 10 objects in the 15--30 km size range have been probably lost. As a consequence, Maria's family can be seen as one of the most promising candidates as the source of the ``giant'' near--Earth asteroids 433 Eros and 1036 Ganymed. This is also confirmed by an extensive spectroscopic survey of the family members in the 5000--10000 A spectral range. The obtained spectra are very similar and very much resemble the known spectra of Eros and Ganymed.