Herod’s Mausoleum and Sarcophagus at Herodium

So they went eight furlongs to Herodium; for there by his own command he was to be buried. And thus did Herod end his life.

Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews

In 1972 Professor Ehud Netzer began his excavations at Lower Herodium. In May 2007 after 35 years of looking for King Herod’s tomb at Herodium, Netzer announced at a press conference that he had uncovered the base of Herod’s mausoleum halfway up the manmade mountain, on the northeast side. Netzer, both an architect and archaeologist and an expert in the Herodian period, has drawn up his reconstruction of the mausoleum, a monument 25 meters high, with a cube-shaped first floor, a cylindrical second floor and a soaring, peaked roof. Note that the photo below is of Yad Avshalom in the Kidron valley – it is an impressive nefesh from the same period so it’s likely that Herod’s monument could have looked similar.

Yad Avshaom, tomb from Second Temple period in the Kidron valley, Jerusalem

Yad Avshalom, tomb from Second Temple period in the Kidron valley, Jerusalem

herodium

National Geographic, December 2008

I’d be delighted to guide you at the site, including the palace complex at the foot of the hill excavated by Netzer in the 1970s and the palace-fortress at the top (in the archaeological park) built by Herod. Although the tomb area is not yet open to the public, they’ve made a temporary path that takes you close, to a lookout of the remains of the mausoleum. Excavations are continuing.

Discovered was an ornate, pink limestone sarcophagus that had been smashed to pieces in antiquity that Netzer claims was King Herod’s.

herods-sarcophagus

Photo: AP (from the Internet)

Later two other sarcophagi were discovered that Netzer claims belong to other members of Herod’s family.

herodium-sarcophagus

Photo: Gabi Laron (from Internet)

Herodium is unique among the sites like Masada, Caesarea, Cypros associated with Herod – it was an entire palace complex originally built by Herod in the desert, the only site to bear his name and where he decided to be buried. Herodium gives us a key to understanding Herod and Jewish life during the Second Temple period.

For additional information about Herodium check my blog post at http://israeltours.wordpress.com/2008/06/07/tour-herodium-herod-tomb/

For a sample tour that I do of Herodium check http://israeltours.wordpress.com/tours/herodium/

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7 thoughts on “Herod’s Mausoleum and Sarcophagus at Herodium

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