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New Items Found At Herodium

Newfound Items

Archaeologists have long strived to determine whether the presumed site of King Herod's mausoleum is the right one. Now, some newfound items have passed muster with the experts—the archaeological researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who state that these items give greater credence to Herodium as the burial place of the 1st century BCE ruler.

King Of Judea

Herod was appointed by Rome to rule as King of Judea during the years 37-4 BCE. King Herod was famous for his massive building projects, among them the reconstruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem; a palace located at Masada; the city and harbor of Caesarea; and Herodium, Herod's summer palace, 15 kilometers south of Jerusalem.

Sarcophagus Remains

Architectural elements found at Herodium suggest to researchers that the mausoleum was a luxurious two-story building, 25 meters high, with a meniscus-shaped roof. The lavish design of the structure was in keeping with what someone of Herod's stature and tastes might have chosen. The remains of Herod's sarcophagus were found within the area of the mausoleum. Other fragments from two other sarcophagi were also found in the area and experts believe these may have belonged to Herod's family members.

Jewish Rebels

Director of the excavations, Prof. Ehud Netzer says the mausoleum was purposely destroyed by Jewish rebels who captured the site at the time of the First Jewish Revolt against the Romans, in around 66 CE.

A 650-750 seat theater was found below and to the west of the mausoleum along with a loggia located just above the seating area. The loggia is decorated in a style previously unseen in Israel and was common in Rome and Campania between 15 and 10 BCE. One wall painting was found intact with fragments of others in the room.

It is the dating of the wall painting that allows Prof. Netzer to believe that the theater was constructed for Marcus Agrippa's visit to the summer palace in 15 BCE. The theater and loggia were apparently lopped off to make way for the building of the mausoleum.

Self-Named Site

Prof. Netzer believes that only Herod's determination to be buried in this out-of-the-way desert area, led to the building of the mausoleum on this site, which overlooks Jerusalem and its environs. The site, self-named, was meant to be the cap on a glorious career of many extensive and luxurious building projects.

 


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