Archaeologists Say They've Found Herod's Tomb

The Christian Century, May 29, 2007 | Go to article overview

Archaeologists Say They've Found Herod's Tomb


Israeli archaeologists believe they have discovered the tomb of king Herod, the Roman-appointed king over the Jews who reigned from 37 BC until his death in 4 BC and was known for his monumental building projects.

The excavation's chief archaeologist, Ehud Netzer from the Institute of Archaeology at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, announced May 8 that his team had discovered the tomb three weeks before during ongoing digging at Herodium, a once-magnificent palace located several miles south of Jerusalem in what is now the West Bank.

During his reign Herod undertook the reinforcement and expansion of the Second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and the fortress atop the rock stronghold of Masada.

The New Testament nativity stories say Jesus was born during Herod's reign. The Gospel of Matthew says Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt be cause the king planned to have the infant Jesus killed. Herod Antipas, son of King Herod, played a role in Jesus' execution, according to the Gospels.

Archaeologists have long based their belief that King Herod was buried at Herodium on the account of the historian Josephus Flavius, who described the king's lavish funeral although not the tomb itself.

Pointing to intricately carved remains from the excavation, Netzer said his team had discovered a grave, fragments from a sarcophagus and a mausoleum on Mount Herodium's northeastern slope. …

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