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Herodium

By Jerusalem Expert: Shmuel, Israel, February 2011

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"So they went eight furlongs to Herodium; for there by his own command he was to be buried. And thus did Herod end his life." Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews

It was the American Biblical scholar Edward Robinson on his visit to the Holy Land in 1838 who first recognized the flat topped mountain about 15km south of Jerusalem as Herodium. In 1972 Professor Ehud Netzer began his excavations at Lower Herodium at the base of the mountain looking for Herod's tomb. Netzer uncovered a structure that he called the Monument building that he thought might be the tomb but no evidence of a grave. For 35 years Netzer continued his search and in May 2007 announced at a press conference that he had uncovered the base of Herod’s mausoleum halfway up the manmade mountain, on the northeast side and the remains of an ornate, pink limestone sarcophagus that had been smashed to pieces in antiquity. Netzer, trained both as an architect and archaeologist was the premier expert in the Herodian period, describes the detailed planning of the entire site, the landscaping, the pool and formal gardens against the backdrop of the Judean desert.

So you too can travel eight furlongs and tour Herodium against the backdrop of the Judean desert - a comprehensive tour includes the palace complex at the foot of the hill, outside the archaeological park, the palace/fortress at the top built by Herod, the tomb area, tunnels from the Bar Kokhba revolt, remains of one of the oldest synagogues found, Roman bath house, even a private Roman theater. Excavations are continuing. Herodium is the key to understanding Herod and life during the Second Temple period.

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