Over the last year, many historical discoveries have been made while excavating the ruins of Herod the Great’s palace-fortress. Recently a team of Hebrew archaeologists has unearthed a grand entrance to the ancient warrior king’s grand monument.
The buried entryway consists of a long corridor, with a complex system of pillars and arches, that encompass three tiers, spanning 6 meters across and 20 meters long. The team of Hebrew archaeologists, from the University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Archaeology, have discovered this abandoned section of the historical site, while continuing their excavation of the large, man-made hill. It is believed that this once great entrance would have been used by King Herod and his assistants to gain direct access to the facility’s courtyard.
At first researchers were puzzled as to why King Herod would order the grand entrance to be covered. Roi Porat, an archaeologist with the University of Jerusalem, theorizes that during the king’s life he had planned to have the massive structure erected as a monument to his greatness, but as his health began to decline, he changed the plans for the site to be converted into a large volcano like mound, that would house his great mausoleum. After his death, the entryway was backfilled, and a large staircase built over the top of it.
Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority plan to fully restore the grand entryway, and converting it into a main entrance to allow tourists to enter the hilltop palace-fortress’ courtyard, royal theater and royal mausoleum.
History tells us that while Herod was fleeing to Masada, after conquering Syria his forces encountered the Parthian army at the location that the Herodium was constructed. After a long and fierce battle, Herod and his men reigned victorious and to commemorate his epic battle, he ordered a large palace-fortress to be constructed on the site.
The man-made, volcano shaped hill is located 12 km south of Jerusalem and 5 kilometers south-east of Bethlehem. The large man-made hill, the structures within the hill and a small village near the site, also named Herodium, was believed to be constructed between 23 and 15 BCE.
This location has been a focal point for historians, and the people who have created history, since the time of its construction. After the death of Herod the Great, the site was used again a century later as a system of bunkers and tunnels, for insurgent guerrillas during the Bar Kokh ba revolt, from 133- 135 BCE.