Tuesday, May 08, 2007

King Herod's Tomb Discovered!

The tomb of Herod the Great has been discovered, reports Mati Milstein at National Geographic News:

"Hebrew University professor Ehud Netzer and colleagues say they solved one of Israel's great archaeological mysteries by unearthing the remains of Herod's grave, sarcophagus, and mausoleum at the Herodium complex.

"Most scholars had assumed Herod, who ruled Judea between 37 and 4 B.C., was buried at the Herodium complex, but his final resting place had remained undiscovered until now. The site lies about 6 miles (15 kilometers) south of modern-day Jerusalem.

"King Herod is renowned for his monumental construction projects, including the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, the Caesarea complex, and the palace atop Masada. Herod constructed Herodium as a massive administrative, residential, memorial, and burial center.

"The site's unique character and other finds at the Herodium prove without a doubt that this is Herod's burial site, Netzer said at a press conference." [full article]

Amiram Barkat in today's edition of Ha'aretz (May 8, 2007) writes:

"Herod, whose father and grandfather converted to Judaism, was appointed governor of Galilee at the age of 25 and was made "King of the Jews" by the Roman senate in approximately 40 BCE. He remained king for around 34 years.

". . .At Herodium, Herod built one of the largest monarchical complexes in the Roman Empire, which served as a residential palace, a sanctuary, an administrative center and a mausoleum. Herod first built an artificial cone-shaped hill that could be seen from Jerusalem, on which he constructed a fortified palace surrounded by watchtowers that he used solely in wartime.

". . . With the outbreak of the Great Revolt, Herodium was seized by the rebels, but then handed over without resistance to the Romans following the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE.

"Fifty years later, Herodium was also used by the rebels during the Bar Kokhva revolt, but was abandoned thereafter.

". . . The first archeological dig at the site, between the years 1956 and 1962, was conducted by a Franciscan monk and revealed most of the currently-known remains. Israel began excavations at the site in 1972, several years after its capture during the Six-Day War." [full article]

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