Herod’s Tomb

Herod died in Jericho (early April in 4 BCE) 69 years old. Herod suffered from excruciating, which was sometimes called “Herod’s Evil” (chronic kidney disease complicated by Fournier’s gangrene), just like his grandson Agrippa I in 44 CE. The pain of his illness made Herod attempt to kill himself by stabbing, but he was seen and prevented by a cousin. Other much later accounts recorded that Herod had successfully committed suicide. Map.

Herod’s Tomb
Herod’s Tomb

When we are on tour and visit the Herod Tomb, we will visit the location where the tomb is found (Herodium) and the actual crypt at the Israel Museum. Herod’s life is dominated by the many constructions (still here to see), the murdering of many people (including his own family) and the physical and mental suffering by his various diseases. For more information about Herod, his tomb and his important history, ask Wim.

Herod suffered throughout his lifetime from depression and paranoia. Herod was so concerned that no one would mourn his death, that he commanded a large group of distinguished men to come to Jericho, and he gave an order that they should be killed at the time of his death so that the displays of grief that he craved would take place. Herod’s son Archelaus and sister Salome did not carry out this wish.

Herod’s Tomb
Herod’s Tomb

The location of Herod’s tomb is documented by Josephus, who writes, “And the body was carried two hundred furlongs, to Herodium, where he had given order to be buried.” Josephus provides more clues about Herod’s tomb, which he calls Herod’s monuments: So they threw down all the hedges and walls which the inhabitants had made about their gardens and groves of trees, and cut down all the fruit trees that lay between them and the wall of the city, and filled up all the hollow places and the chasms, and demolished the rocky precipices with iron instruments; and thereby made all the place level from Scopus to Herod’s monuments, which adjoined to the pool called the Serpent’s Pool.

Herod’s Tomb
Herod’s Tomb

Professor Ehud Netzer, an archaeologist from the Hebrew University, read the writings of Josephus and focused his search on the vicinity of the pool and its surroundings. An article in the New York Times states, Lower Herodium consists of the remains of a large palace, a race track, service quarters, and a monumental building whose function is still a mystery.

Herod’s Tomb
Herod’s Tomb

Perhaps, says Ehud Netzer, who excavated the site, it is Herod’s mausoleum. Next to it is a pool, almost twice as large as modern Olympic-size pools. It took thirty-five years for Netzer to identify the exact location, but on May 7, 2007, an Israeli team of archaeologists of Hebrew University, led by Netzer, announced they had discovered the tomb.

Herod’s Tomb
Herod’s Tomb

The site is located at the exact location given by Josephus, atop tunnels and water pools, at a flattened desert site, halfway up the hill to Herodium, 12 kilometers (7.5 mi) south of Jerusalem. The tomb contained a broken sarcophagus but no remains of a body.

Herod’s Tomb
Herod’s Tomb

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the Gush Etzion Regional Council intend to recreate the tomb out of a light plastic material.

In October 2013, archaeologists Joseph Patrich and Benjamin Arubas challenged the identification of the tomb as that of Herod. According to Patrich and Arubas, the tomb is too modest to be Herod’s and has several unlikely features. Roi Porat, who replaced Netzer as excavation leader after the latter’s death, stood by the identification.

5 Comments

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