Herodium

Also known as el-Fureidis, Har Hordos, Herodeion, Herodion, Jebel Fureidis

From Bethlehem

Herodium is 3 miles (5 km) southeast of Bethlehem and 8 miles (13 km) south of Jerusalem. Its summit is 2,460 feet (750 m) above sea level.

Herod built or re-built eleven fortresses. He constructed this one on the location of his victory over Antigonus in 40 BC.

Herod's Herodium

Constructed over a small pre-existing hill, Herodium was a fortress for Herod to quickly flee to from Jerusalem and a luxurious palace for his enjoyment. He chose to be buried here and the mountain is the shape of a tumulus. Herod’s tomb was discovered by archaeologist Ehud Netzer in 2007. For details and photos, see these posts at the BiblePlaces Blog.

The Palace

King Herod built the mountain by first erecting a double-walled cylinder with an outer diameter of 200 feet (60 m). There were seven stories in the cylinder including two or three at the top which no longer exist. Afterward, a massive fill of earth and gravel was placed against the cylinder. The four towers are located at the points of the compass.

The Bathhouse

Another symbol of Herod’s extravagance in building, this full-size Roman bathhouse had the typical design of four rooms—apodyterium (changing room), tepidarium (stretching room), caldarium (steam room), and frigidarium (cold bath).

The floor was paved with white and black mosaics and the walls were decorated with frescoes of many colors and geometric designs.

The Synagogue

Probably a triclinium (dining room arranged with three tables) in Herod’s day, this room was transformed into a synagogue by the Jewish rebels who took over the Herodium in AD 70.

First-century AD parallels to this synagogue exist at Masada and Gamla, two sites also captured and held by Jewish fighters in the war against Rome.

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Related Websites

Herodium (See the Holy Land) An excellent introduction to the site.

Herodium (Tourist Israel) A nifty tourism guide.

Herodium (Donald D. Binder) Rather dated, but features several nice photos, especially of the Herodium synagogue.

Herodium – King Herod’s Palace-Fortress (Israel MFA) Good description of importance of the site and archaeological discoveries, from roughly 2000.

Herodium: The Tomb of King Herod Revisited (Bible History Daily) A highlight of this short article is the small recreation of all of Herodium, with labels.

Royal Theater Box at the Herodium (Ferrell Jenkins blog) This 2010 article discusses the exciting discovery of the small theater on the slopes of Herodium, and the special place for Herod to sit as he watched the dramas.

Herodium Park (Israel National Parks and Nature Reserve) This gives points of interest, geographic location, history, archaeology, and more.

Herodium Expedition—The Bath-House (herodium.org) The highlight of this brief article is a reconstruction of the bath-house.

Herod’s Tomb (National Geographic) A moderate article with several photos, serving as a nice introduction to this excavation.

Finding King Herod’s Tomb (Smithsonian Mag) An in-depth 2009 article about the discovery of the tomb, with pictures illustrating it all at the end.

Herod’s Sarcophagus (Israel Museum) See Herod’s sarcophagus at the Israel Museum through this link.