Jerusalem exhibit reveres King Herod for Holy Land architecture
Herod the Great may be best known among Christians as the cruel ruler who sought to kill infant Jesus and whose son bookended Jesus' earthly travails by mocking him en route to his Crucifixion.
The shrewd politician, appointed by Rome, left a far broader imprint on history, however.
From Corinthian columns to lavish frescoes, Herod etched the latest fashions of the Roman world into the Holy Land in rare and costly colors such as cinnabar. Even rabbinic literature of his day recognized Herod as the greatest builder of the land, though he was controversial among some Jewish subjects who doubted his Judaism and saw him as a puppet of Rome.
Among the monuments to Herod's terrific construction are the imposing mountain fortress of Masada, perched on a desert plateau with cliffs on all sides; Caesarea, the largest artificial port of its day, complete with an amphitheater for 10,000 spectators of chariot races; and Herodian, an artificial mountain that punctuates the skyline just south of Jerusalem, a palatial complex that Herod is believed to have built as his final resting place.
After decades of excavation at these sites by late Israeli archaeologist Ehud Netzer, The Israel Museum in Jerusalem recently started a nine-month exhibit, “Herod the Great: The King's Last Journey.”
The exhibit includes more than 30 tons of material— a massive undertaking that required the museum to shore up its foundations and heighten its ceilings.
Although packed with eager visitors during Passover last week, the Herod exhibit has received a fair amount of negative attention. Much of the material for the exhibit was taken from Herodian, which is in an Israeli-controlled part of the West Bank. Palestinians accuse Israel of using archaeology to expand its occupation.
Netzer's excavations and subsequent conclusions are not universally accepted. Herod's presumed sarcophagus, for example, has no inscription proving it was his. Many details of the exhibit have been pieced together based on the writings of 1st-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus.
The exhibit is not controversial among Israelis themselves. But why would Jews seek to honor such a leader —who murdered his own wife and children and was seen by more than a few Jews as a Roman sellout?
“He was the last great Jewish king here,” said Ilya Burda, an employee at Herodian.
As for his more savage exploits, well, that was par for the course in his day, Burda suggested.
“He was a great builder, a great administrator and a great killer, and all these things came together,” he said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- ISIS waterboarded Foley, other hostages
- U.S. student’s body found beside forest in Jerusalem
- Russian columns enter Ukraine; leader urges calm
- China tells U.S. to cut back surveillance
- Russian tanks inside Ukraine
- Fate of anti-government protest lies in Pakistani military’s hands
- UN: Ebola cases could eventually reach 20,000
- Toronto mayor, as volunteer football coach, made players roll in geese droppings, school board papers allege
- U.N. fears 20,000 will be infected with Ebola
- A flavor out of favor: Dog meat fades in S. Korea
- Israel, Hamas accept Gaza war cease-fire