See Ehud Netzer, “Searching for Herod’s Tomb,” BAR 09:03.


The location of the cisterns was probably based on geological considerations.


When we first began excavating the intermediate cistern, we thought that it was subdivided by a series of walls made of rubble stone. We assumed that the cistern included a group of rooms in its latest phase. After further excavation, however, we have concluded that the walls do not subdivide courts, rather they are a means of disposing of surplus material. The space between the two central walls was used as a corridor, whereas the spaces behind the walls were filled. The walls within the intermediate cistern were built very poorly. (See pictures I, J, K.)


Dio Cassius’s reference to the underground installations is transmitted to us, only in an abbreviated form, by Xiphilinus, an 11th-century monk.



The system of underground tunnels was first revealed in 1968, when, under the archaeological direction of Gideon Forester, Israel’s National Parks Authority was preparing the mountain palace-fortress, excavated in the 1960s by Father Virgilio Corbo, for tourists. The system was surveyed and partially excavated under my direction with the assistance of Shimon Arzi and the Field School in Kfar Etzion during 1973–1975. The work at the tunnels was carried out by local volunteers who stayed at the Field School.