Herod’s Tomb Found
Herod Tomb Update
“Ehud Netzer is 100 per cent certain he’s found King Herod’s tomb,” BAR editor Hershel Shanks told us from Jerusalem. He was among the first reporters to visit Herodium with excavator Ehud Netzer the day after Netzer announced that he had located the tomb inside the northeast slope of the volcano-shaped site. Netzer, of Hebrew University, first began his excavations at Herodium 35 years ago.
Located about 8 miles south of Jerusalem, Herodium is a striking structure built by Herod to house a fortress and palaces. At the base of the mountain, Herod built a small city, called Lower Herodium, and many scholars had believed that his tomb was somewhere at the base. Others, Shanks told us, had suggested that Herod’s tomb was in one of the towers at the top of the mountain, the only one of the four towers that had been sealed off in ancient times.
“The tomb is quite far down the slope,” Shanks said. From the base, a processional course featuring fancy architecture leads up the slope. Netzer and his team found a 10-meter-square (about 32 by 32 feet) podium. “Netzer hypothesizes that the podium supported a mausoleum,” Shanks continued, adding that Netzer had found fragments of both the mausoleum and a sarcophagus that had been inside it. “The sarcophagus was vengefully destroyed about 70 years after Herod’s death by members of the First Jewish Revolt against Rome” according to Netzer, Shanks said.
Netzer recognizes that because he did not find an inscription with Herod’s name not all scholars will accept his conclusion that this is indeed the tomb of ancient Judea’s at-times mad king. Netzer had hoped to publish a technical article on his findings, but when he realized that the story would soon come out in the media, he decided to hold a press conference to lay out his finds and his conclusions.
Shanks noted that when Netzer does publish his scientific article, some scholars may take issue with his conclusions. But Shanks gives great weight to Netzer’s theory. “Ehud Netzer has been living with Herod the Great for 50 years, so he feels the man. He also brings an architect’s eye to his work,” Shanks said. “If anyone understands Herod, it’s Ehud Netzer.”
Since our news account about the find (see below), Hebrew University has posted two reports on the web; they can be found here:
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