One of the most exciting new installations that I saw in the Israel Museum’s renovated archaeology galleries was the display of a part of the laconicum (hot dry room) next to the calderium of the Roman bath house that was found at Lower Herodium. I arrived to see the museum staff putting the final touches to the installation that shows clearly all the components: the hypocaust, the underfloor heating system where the floor is supported by stone pillars (pilae stacks) and the clay tubes in the walls to let the heat pass through; the plasterwork and fresco paintings on the wall; the mosaic floor.
Nearby is another square mosaic floor with a geometric, intertwined circle and pomegranates (one of the 7 species that grows in the land of Israel and characteristic Jewish motif of this period) in each of the corners. You can see this mosaic on site at Lower Herodium in the main tepidarium if you climb onto the roof of the bath house (though I learned that the one in the museum is the original and on site is a copy). If you look to the right, there is another mosaic in the small tepidarium designed as an opus sectile pattern of tiles.
I didn’t see any other artifacts from Herodium being readied for display – I was hoping to see the 3 sarcophagi that were discovered.
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