Early Western visitors were intrigued by a conical mountain about 4 miles (6 km) southeast of Bethlehem.  Known by the Arabs as Jebel el Fureidis (Little Paradise Mountain), the site was believed to be the monument built by King Herod and named after himself. 

Herodium, ruins on summit, mat01383

Herodium, eastern tower, date of photograph: 1910-26.
From the Southern Palestine volume of The American Colony and Eric Matson Collection (Library of Congress, LC-matpc-01383).

Edward Robinson visited the site in 1838.  He described his visit in his second volume of Biblical Researches in Palestine: “Leaving here our horses, a steep ascent of ten minutes brought us to the top of the mountain, which constitutes a circle of about seven hundred and fifty feet in circumference. The whole of this is enclosed by the ruined walls of a circular fortress, built of hewn stones of good size, with four massive round towers standing one at each of the cardinal points. . . . The tower upon the East is not so thoroughly destroyed as the rest” (170-71).

Today one can see how impressive that solid eastern tower is.  Excavations began at Herodium in 1962 under the Franciscan Virgil Corbo.  After Israel took the area in 1967, Ehud Netzer continued the archaeological work.  Two years ago, Netzer discovered the long-sought-for tomb of Herod.

Herodium interior, tb102603570

Herodium with eastern tower on right

The Tel Dor team is looking for support and volunteers, and I’m glad to help out by posting a recent letter I received here.  Times are tough for archaeology, as noted by Jeffrey Zorn in this column in the current issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.  They would appreciate your support.

Dear Madam/Sir,
The exquisite gemstone of Alexander the great that captured your attention is only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, of one of the largest, long-lasting and high-profile archaeological projects in Israel. If you care about the archaeology of biblical times (Israelites, Phoenicians and Sea People), the Classical periods, and the cultural heritage of Israel and the Mediterranean; and if you are interested in forging a bond between Israel and the international community – please take a moment to look at the attached file. Like almost cultural projects around the globe, we need your help to endure.
We would be grateful if you could pass this message to any other interested parties.
Dr. Ilan Sharon,
Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University Jerusalem
Mt. Scopus, Jerusalem 91905
Tel. 972-2-2881304
Dr. Ayelet Gilboa
Chair, Dept. of Archaeology,
University of Haifa, Mount Carmel
Haifa 31905, Israel
Tel: 972-4-8240234, 972-4-8240531
Tel Dor website: http://dor.huji.ac.il/
Email: [email protected]
Tel Dor has also a facebook page; you are welcome to visit us.

The cover story this month in BAR is about a beautiful mosaic found in the excavations of Dor. 

If your idea of a perfect summer is excavating on the beach in the best climate in the world, you have found what you’re looking for.

Dor harbor area from north, tb090506883

Harbor of Dor, looking south