Bible and archaeology news
Over the past year, archaeologists from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Archaeology have been excavating a monumental entryway to King Herod’s hilltop palace-fortress at Herodium, 7.5 miles south of Jerusalem in Israel. The excavations at Herodium National Park are being carried out by the Herodium Expedition in Memory of Ehud Netzer, led by directors Yakov Kalman and Roi Porat with team architect Rachel Chachy.
Herod began construction of a grand palace-fortress for himself as king of Judea at Herodium in 28–27 B.C.E. The site would ultimately be his final resting place when he died in 4 B.C.E.
The entryway uncovered by the Herodium Expedition archaeologists is comprised of a corridor crowned with a series of arches. Measuring about 65 feet high, 65 feet long and 20 feet wide, the corridor would have provided direct access to the courtyard of the hilltop palace-fortress.
According to the excavators, it appears that this corridor was never actually used. The excavators believe the corridor was backfilled in the process of turning the entire hilltop complex into a massive royal burial mound when Herod became aware of his imminent death. According to Jewish historian Josephus, he was buried at Herodium—but the specific location of his burial has been debated.
The Herodium Expedition archaeologists also discovered hidden tunnels dug into the corridor by Jewish rebels during the Bar Kokhba Revolt (132–135/6 C.E.) against the Romans. The rebels used Herodium as their administrative and military base during the short-lived revolt.
The excavations at the palace-fortress are part of a larger project to prepare and develop Herodium for tourism. According to Shaul Goldstein, Director of Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority, in the future, visitors will be able to walk through the grand arched corridor to the hilltop palace-fortress as originally conceived by Herod.
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