Saturday, 19 May 2007

King Herod's tomb discovered

Thousands of years after his death, the King of Judea has returned.

Once ruler of Jerusalem in the first century, King Herod the Great has risen to the forefront of public discussion in the twenty first century.

After many years of archaeological searches, Herod’s tomb was finally found at the site of what is possibly his most outstanding construction, Herodium. The discovery was made when pieces of the desecrated limestone sarcophagus were found by archaeologists.

The dig that led to the discovery was headed by Hebrew University Professor Ehud Netzer, an expert on King Herod who has been working at the site since 1972.

Netzer has said there is no doubt this recent find is the burial site of King Herod, when the historical records and the nature and location of the findings are considered.

Researchers have believed Herodium to be the site of the ancient King’s tomb for many years, based upon the writings of ancient Jewish historian Flavius Josephus. This excavation focused on an area not yet searched.

About 12km south of Jerusalem in the Judean Desert in the West Bank, the recently uncovered tomb site is where it has long been thought and recorded as residing. Mount Herodium is a flattened hilltop between Bethlehem and Masada where Herod constructed a great palace, fortress and monument.

The complex Herod built at Mount Herodium served many purposes, including a residential palace, a sanctuary, a mausoleum and an administrative center. He also built a second palace at the base of the hill, known as ‘Lower Herodium’. The palace included many buildings, pools, gardens, stables, and was the size of a small town.

Renowned for his building projects, in particular the expansion of the second Jewish temple, Mount Moriah, Herodium is Herod’s only project that is also his namesake and is the place he chose to be buried and memorialised.

Herod was a Roman appointed King and therefore faced opposition by Jewish rebels, who are suspected to have destroyed his sarcophagus and stolen his remains during their rebellion against Rome after his death. He reigned from 37-4BCE, at his death.

Herod is also famous in the Christian tradition, which represents him as an evil King who ordered the death of all Jewish baby boys out of fear of a prophetic claim that he would be superseded as King by the birth of baby Jesus.

This find has been described as one the most striking discoveries in Israel in recent years by archaeologists involved in the successful search and has sparked worldwide interest.

Kathryn Loughman is a student and freelance journalist in Sydney, Australia.


Biby Cletus said...

Cool blog, i just randomly surfed in, but it sure was worth my time, will be back

Deep Regards from the other side of the Moon

Biby Cletus

liz said...

wow, thanks!