The Israel Museum has created a virtual tour of the Herod the Great exhibit in which you can “walk” through the nine galleries, viewing the reconstructions, listening to audio explanations, and watching several video pieces. The gallery is loosely arranged after the journey of Herod from the place of his death in Jericho to his burial at Herodium. Herod’s relationship with Rome is featured, and Ehud Netzer is honored. A photo of the reconstruction of upper and lower Herodium is valuable.
In particular I would recommend the two (silent) videos:

The Herod exhibition has been extended to January 4, 2014.

HT: Jack Sasson

Limestone Greek inscription with drachma donation for Herod's Temple from Jerusalem, 21 BC, tb122200095
Greek inscription mentioning donation for Herod’s temple in Jerusalem, 21 BC. Now on display in the Hecht Museum, Haifa.

A rare film from 1913 shows footage of Jerusalem and the train ride up from Jaffa. Footage of prayers at the Western Wall are shown at about the 4-minute mark. (The audio is in Hebrew.)

Leen Ritmeyer explains why he disagrees with the belief that the Shushan Gate had to be directly opposite the entrance to the Temple.

Wayne Stiles has an excellent post on the City of David and its significance in history. If you haven’t seen the new 3-D film shown at the City of David Visitor’s Center, you can watch it here.

An ultra-marathoner has completed the 600-mile Israel Trail in just 15 days.

Despite warnings that it will lead to a sharp drop in tourism, the Israeli government has approved adding an 18% tax (VAT) on services to non-Israelis.

Highlight Israel shares a 30-second time-lapse video of the sun setting over the Old City of Jerusalem.

Menachem Kaiser praises the Israel Museum’s exhibit of King Herod for not only representing his great buildings but for revealing the man himself.

The 2012 Bethsaida field report is now online. Figure 2 is a scarab dated to the 8th century and possibly connected with Israel’s royal house. Previous field reports are available here.

Geza Vermes died this week. Mark Goodacre reflects on his legacy.

One of the best Bible collections in the world opened Thursday evening in Dallas. The Museum of

Biblical Art houses the new Charles C. Ryrie Library with more than 100 rare Bibles, including the

Wycliffe New Testament (1430), Tyndale’s Pentateuch (1530), Bomberg’s Biblia Hebraica (1521),
the Complutensian Polyglot (1520), and the “Wicked Bible” (1631).

HT: Judi King, Mark Hoffman

Biblia Hebraica, published by Daniel Bomberg in 1521, now on display in the Charles C. Ryrie Library.

Several articles this week are related to King Herod and the new exhibit at the Israel Museum. With a lengthy list for tomorrow’s roundup, I thought a separate post might be worthwhile.

Herodium, home of the most reviled monarch in Judea – Miriam Feinberg Vamosh writes about Herod’s fortress in a free article in Haaretz.

A King on Exhibition: Herod is Ready for His Close-Up – Karl Vick gives some background on the new exhibit in Time. There are errors.

In Search of Herod’s Tomb – This article by the Herodium’s excavator, Ehud Netzer, was published posthumously in Biblical Archaeology Review.

Herod the Great—The King’s Final Journey – Suzanne F. Singer describes the museum exhibit in the current issue of Biblical Archaeology Review. A slideshow is included.

Over the years, I’ve written about sites important to King Herod, including Masada, Herodium, Caesarea Maritima, Caesarea Philippi, and Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. See also King Herod: Ten 
Things You Didn’t Know.

HT: Jack Sasson

Jerusalem model Herod's Palace from southwest, tb020101208
Model of Herod’s Jerusalem palace, now on display at the Israel Museum. Photo from Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.

A month ago, a plan was announced to construct a 1:1 scale model of Herod’s tomb on location at Herodium. Haaretz ran a story on it with a misleading headline (later revised): “Top archaeologists condemn Israeli plan to rebuild ancient tomb.”

This weekend The Bible and Interpretation published an article by two on the planning team, giving their motivation for proposing the reconstruction. While much of the article reviews the historical importance of the Herodium, Zeev Margalit and Roi Porat conclude with the rationale for the plan that they concede is “unique, extraordinary, and unprecedented at an archaeological site.” They describe their principles as follows:

1. Construction of the model will not damage the antiquities!
2. New construction will be clearly separated from the original remains.
3. The principle of reversibility will be strictly observed at all times; after implementation is complete, the model will be able to be dismantled and the site returned to the previous state.
4. Conservation of all archaeological findings at Herodium will be carried out together with the construction of the model, including the nearby structures – the royal chamber, the theater, the monumental steps, etc.

The full article is here.

Herodium with lower pool, tb102603555

Upper and Lower Herodium from the north

Last week a model of Herod’s tomb was erected at the Herodium. The 13-foot (4-m) high structure cost $13,000 and is made of light plastic. Plans have been drawn up to create a full-size replica of the entire mausoleum which would serve as a visitor’s center.

Haaretz runs the story with the headline “Top archaeologists condemn Israeli plan to rebuild ancient tomb.” Unfortunately the story doesn’t support the headline. The primary criticism cited comes from an archaeologist who asked to remain anonymous. Journalistic ethics should preclude Haaretz from quoting an anonymous source on a subject of this nature. A named critic is Haim Goldfus, the head of the archaeology department at Ben Gurion University, who believes that a reconstruction would only be a distraction. Gideon Foerster observes that there are still too many unknowns to justify a reconstruction.

Whether or not a monument that helps the public to visualize the tomb (and thus increases visits to the site) is a good thing or not can be debated. Haaretz misleads, however, in suggesting that there is a widespread movement among archaeologists against a plastic model. A more accurate headline would be: “Two archaeologists condemn Israeli plan to rebuild ancient tomb.”

An unmentioned factor in the story is the contention that the tomb of the “king of the Jews” belongs to the Palestinians because Arab armies held this territory at the conclusion of the War of 1948. Thus Israeli archaeologists should not be excavating, let alone reconstructing, any site in the West Bank.

Tom Powers provides another perspective on his blog.


Model of Herod’s Tomb erected at the Herodium. Photo: Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

UPDATE (2/2): Joseph Lauer notes that the article was re-published with a revised headline,
“Archaeologists slam plan to rebuild Herod’s tomb.”


ABR is putting the word out for volunteers to join them for the 10th season of excavations at Khirbet el-Maqatir, a possible location of Joshua’s Ai.

IBEX students discovered a beautiful seal this week in excavations at Tel Burna (Libnah?).

Excavations have resumed in Egypt at Tell el-Amarna.

One place that most tourists to Israel never visit is the southern wilderness where the Israelites wandered. Wayne Stiles gives his readers a good feel for the landscape, with several scenic photographs, in his weekly column at the Jerusalem Post.

CITYsights takes viewers on a four-minute video tour of the Herodium in search of Herod’s tomb.

Satellite imagery is being used to identify ancient settlements in the Libyan desert.

Elsewhere in Libya, thieves drilled through a concrete ceiling in the National Commercial Bank and carried off the Treasure of Benghazi. An expert described the loss as “one of the greatest thefts in archaeological history.”

Carl Rasmussen has been uploading photos from his excellent Zondervan Atlas of the Bible to the Holy Land Photos website where they can be downloaded for free.

The Book and the Spade radio program features an interview with Eilat Mazar (and a forthcoming profile in Christianity Today). To listen, go here.

A hyena was caught in an illegal trap near Modiin (about halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv). Aren Maeir has the details, a video and some advice.

Now that it has been admitted to UNESCO, the PA is going to sue Israel “for systematically destroying and forging Arab and Islamic culture in Jerusalem.”

It’s been a year now since the American consulate in Jerusalem relocated from East Jerusalem, but since I missed it, someone else may have also. If you lose your passport or need a birth certificate, you’ll need to head to the new facility in Arnona, south of the Old City not far from Ramat Rahel.

Friday (11/11/11) is the last day to vote for the Dead Sea as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. The lowest and saltiest body of water on earth is in the top ten but the Israeli Tourism Ministry is asking everyone to vote.

HT: Jack Sasson, Joseph Lauer