This and That

Random bits of my life

Herod’s Tomb at the Israel Museum

Posted by Avital Pinnick on May 29, 2013


The exhibit, “Herod the Great: The King’s Final Resting Place,” at the Israel Museum is splendid. It finishes on January 4, so you  still have time to see it. The reconstructed sarcophagus (above), of reddish stone and delicately carved with rosettes, is believed to have been the coffin of Herod the Great (grandfather of Herod Agrippa, the Herod mentioned in the New Testament.)  The zealots who took over the Herodion fortress during the rebellion against the Romans (AD 66-73) had done such a thorough job of destroying the site that reconstruction was like a giant jigsaw puzzle.

Israeli archaeologist Ehud Netzer spent 35 years searching for the tomb and announced its discovery in 2007. Netzer died after a fall at the site in 2010, a couple years after he approached the Israel Museum about the exhibit. The museum went ahead with the exhibit and removed dozens of half-ton stone pillars and fragments with a crane (they will be returned to the site when the exhibit is finished). For more information about this amazing site, see the articles in Smithsonian and National Geographic.


Bathtub and mosaic floor. The bathtub has no drainage system, so it would have been filled and emptied by hand.


Very colourful fresco fragments:


Elaborate stone carvings on lintels and capitals:


The photo angles are a bit wonky because I was shooting from the hip.


Large basin with winged women and handles with men’s heads, in the hellenic style:


Several video presentations superimposed 3D computer-generated graphics over aerial video footage of the site. Very impressive!


Model of the Herodion. The tomb was halfway down the hill, on the other. If you look at the video in the photo, imagine that you’re viewing the hill from the other side. The small round structure is the tomb, while the big hill in the background is the Herodion.



Reconstructed tomb. The red coffin is inside and you can walk around it.


Reconstructed banquet room with frescoes and plaster decorations:


One Response to “Herod’s Tomb at the Israel Museum”

  1. rifestitch said

    Thanks for the photos – I am envious of all of the history around you!

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