Herod the Great Exhibition in the Israel Museum

Last March I was able to visit this exhibition and it took my breath away. We were fortunate to have special permission to film before the exhibition was opened to visitors as I was part of a team making a documentary for the National Geographic.

Circular tholos of Herod’s Funerary Monument on the left, with his theatre box in the background. On the right are two sarcophagi found at the site of Herodium.

As has been widely reported e.g. Todd Bolen’s Bible Places, the Israel Museum has now put on their website a “Virtual Tour” for those who cannot see the exhibition for themselves. The front page of the website has many interesting links. German speakers can also follow a tour of the exhibition by David Mevorah, the curator of the exhibition. (HT Alexander Schick)

Model of Herodium, Herod the Great Exhibition, Israel Museum.

I was naturally drawn to the beautiful model of Herodium that accompanies the exhibition of the remains of Herod’s Funerary Monument and the Theatre. As I found that the theatre was built too deep into the surface of the model, I created my own reconstruction drawing:

Herodium – Upper Palace, Funerary Monument and Theatre. © Leen Ritmeyer

The drawing shows the Upper Palace on top of a man-made hill, with the monument and theatre built on opposite sides of the stairway leading to the palace. The steps of the theatre are cut out of the natural bedrock side of the mountain.

It is remarkable that this creation of Herod can be seen in silhouette from across the Dead Sea. We could easily pick it out at sunset, when sitting on the terrace of our hotel on the Dead Sea shore, where we stayed during this year’s season of the Tall el-Hammam excavations in Jordan:

Herodium viewed from Jordan, on the east side of the Dead Sea. The silhouette of Herodium can be seen between the two palm trees (see arrow).

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