This and That

Random bits of my life

Posts Tagged ‘archaeology’

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:


Posted in Israel, Judaism, photography | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Ancient Tombs on My Way to Work

Posted by Avital Pinnick on December 4, 2011

Tomb, Doris Weiler Park

I have no excuse for not posting more often. I just get lazy or caught up in other things, which is a pity because Jerusalem is one of the most interesting places in the world to photograph.

Yesterday my husband mentioned that he’d been trying new routes through the Ramat Eshkol neighbourhood on his way to work and found an ancient tomb that he hadn’t seen before, in the Doris Weiler park Meshulam Garden. The whole area was once a sprawling necropolis in the time of the Second Temple (roughly contemporaneous with the rise of Christianity). Since deserted parks aren’t the safest place for a woman alone, he offered to go with me. Afterwards I showed him the tomb in the Sanhedrin park near Golda Meir Blvd.

The photo above is part of the carved arch above the entrance. Below is the facade of the tomb. This is the well-known Eshkolot tomb, named after the grape clusters (eshkolot) on either side of the medallion in the gable. The tomb was discovered in the 1970s when the foundations of surrounding apartment buildings were being dug.

Tomb, Doris Weiler Park

Interior of the tomb, shot with a flash. There are several inner chambers for ossuaries (long gone) and a crude line drawing of pillar capitals in the corner.

Tomb, Doris Weiler Park

Carving on the entrance of the tomb:

Tomb, Doris Weiler Park

Tomb, Doris Weiler Park

Tomb, Doris Weiler Park

The tomb below is in the Sanhedrin park. It has a splendidly decorated facade with acanthus leaves, an urn, and architectonic elements. Since we were in a rush to get to work I only took this photograph.

Tomb, Sanhedrin Park

Both tombs would have belonged to wealthy Jewish families of the Second Temple period (530 BCE to 70 CE). Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to identify the original owners if the ossuaries have been removed because they are usually the only sources of inscriptions.

Posted in Israel, photography | Tagged: , , | 6 Comments »