Vatican Honors Machaerus Excavator

Győző Vörös Recognized for Excavating Site Where John the Baptist Was Beheaded

Professor Győző Vörös, member of the Hungarian Academy of Arts and frequent BAR author, has received the highest pontifical award for his archaeological work at Machaerus, King Herod’s palace-fortress east of the Dead Sea in modern-day Jordan.[1] Machaerus is the place where Salome danced before her stepfather, Herod Antipas, and where John the Baptist was imprisoned and beheaded (Matthew 14; Mark 6).

The Pontifical Academies Coordinating Council gave Vörös the 2020 Gold Medal of the Pontificate, which is reserved for the Pontifical Roman Academy of Archaeology and the Pontifical Academy Cultorum Martyrum. This award honors not only Vörös’s excavations at Machaerus but also his three volumes on the archaeological findings, published by Edizioni Terra Santa, in 2013, 2015, and 2019.

The council announced the award in May 2021. The Biblical Archaeology Society echoes these accolades for Vörös’s archaeological work—and for his enthusiasm in sharing his discoveries with the public. Congratulations!

[1] See Győző Vörös, “Machaerus: Where Salome Danced and John the Baptist Was Beheaded,” BAR, September/October 2012; Győző Vörös, “Anastylosis at Machaerus,” BAR, January/February 2015; Győző Vörös, “Machaerus: A Palace-Fortress with Multiple Mikva’ot,” BAR, July/August 2017; Győző Vörös, “Restoring Herod’s Throne Niche at Machaerus,” BAR, Winter 2020.

Related reading in Bible History Daily:

Machaerus Through the Ages Timeline of Events at Machaerus.

Anastylosis at Machaerus, Where John the Baptist Was Beheaded Győző Vörös details the restoration work taking place at Machaerus—giving archaeological context to the New Testament episode featuring Princess Salome and John the Baptist.

Artistic Representations of Herod’s Royal Throne There are thousands of images and representations related to Herodian Machaerus in the history of art. The most common subjects are Salome bringing the head of the Baptist on a salver to Herodias and the beheading of John the Baptist itself. These portrayals—in Bible illustrations, frescos, reliefs, icons in churches, and paintings—usually reflect contemporary European royal castles and courts with the figures wearing medieval, renaissance, or baroque costumes rather than ancient garments.

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