Ehud Netzer, a prominent Israeli archaeologist and the world’s leading authority on Herodian architecture, died on October 27, 2010 from a fall at Herodium where he had been digging for 38 years in search of Herod’s tomb. Herod was the ancient world’s builder par excellence. Netzer described Herod as “a king who lived and breathed the art of construction, deeply understood its ways and, quite simply, loved to build.” One might fairly say that Netzer himself lived and breathed the man and the works of Herod.

In his long career, Netzer worked at Herodium, Jericho, Masada and numerous other sites, including Hazor, Sepphoris, Caesarea and Jerusalem. A member of BAR’s editorial advisory board for 30 years, he frequently wrote for the magazine. In February 2013, the Israel Museum opened a new exhibit on the journeys of two men separated by 2,000 years. One was the funeral procession of King Herod the Great; the other was the life work of Ehud Netzer.

The articles below were hand-selected by Biblical Archaeology Society editors especially for members of the BAS Library.


In Search of Herod’s Tomb
Biblical Archaeology Review, January/February 2011 By Ehud Netzer

Josephus tells us that the site of Herodium was the final resting place of the skilled builder and hated king Herod the Great, but Josephus failed to identify the exact location of the tomb. For 35 years, Herod’s tomb eluded archaeologist Ehud Netzer. Finally in 2007 a ruined mausoleum and a smashed sarcophagus were uncovered, providing the long-sought answer. But excavations at Herod’s magnificent eponymous desert retreat have now revealed much more, including a royal theater box with colorful paintings.

Floating in the Desert
Archaeology Odyssey, Winter 1999 By Ehud Netzer

For more than a century after the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C.E., his heirs, the Seleucids in Syria and Mesopotamia and the Ptolemies in Egypt, fought for control of the portion of southern Israel known as Judea. Early in the second century B.C.E., a Jew named Joseph stepped into the fray. The […]

A New Reconstruction of Paul’s Prison
Biblical Archaeology Review, January/February 2009

The Antonia, the palace/fortress lavishly described by the ancient Jewish historian Josephus at the northwest corner of the Herodian Temple Mount, is not mentioned by name in the New Testament. For a long time, however, it was thought to be the “praetorium” where Pilate questioned Jesus and found him innocent. The praetorium is […]

Uncovering Herod’s Seaside Palace
Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 1993 By Barbara Burrell , Kathryn L. Gleason , Ehud Netzer

The great port city of Caesarea was born out of the genius of one man: Herod the Great (c. 73–4 B.C.E.). This Idumean politician, with the support of the rulers at Rome, rose to become king of Judea. On the site of a dilapidated town, he built a glorious new city, splendid in every […]

New Mosaic Art from Sepphoris
Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December 1992 By Ehud Netzer , Zeev Weiss

BAR readers know Sepphoris well. In the BAR 14:01 issue the mosaic known as the Mona Lisa of the Galilee appeared on the cover and was the prize find of the 1987 season.a More recently, in the BAR 18:03 issue, Sepphoris was the chief exhibit for a scholar’s contention that Jesus knew urban culture […]

Jewish Rebels Dig Strategic Tunnel System
Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August 1988 By Ehud Netzer

At Herodium, the isolated mountain palace-fortress complex originally created by Herod the Great in the midst of the Judean desert,1 an underground tunnel system dating to the Bar-Kokhba revolt, the Second Jewish Revolt against Rome (132–135 A.D.), has recently been discovered. Unlike the low, narrow underground burrows Amos Kloner describes in “Name of Ancient […]

Herod’s Family Tomb in Jerusalem
Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 1983 By Ehud Netzer

We have not found Herod’s tomb, but we have examined a structure that may be Herod’s family tomb. It is not at Herodium but is in Jerusalem itself opposite the Damascus Gate, the most elaborate entrance to the Old City. As with Herodium, my interest in the Jerusalem structure at first had nothing to […]

BAR Readers Restore and Preserve Herodian Jericho
Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December 1978 By Ehud Netzer

I am happy to report to BAR readers on the preservation and restoration work which was accomplished last year with funds which they—you—provided. But before I do let me tell you briefly about the continuing excavations at the site of the winter palaces.

The Last Days and Hours at Masada
Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December 1991 By Ehud Netzer

The last stand in the First Jewish Revolt against Rome took place on the nearly diamond-shaped mountaintop of Masada, site of a palace-fortress completed by Herod the Great (37–4 B.C.E.). Jewish Zealots who occupied Masada at the start of the revolt in 66 C.E. held the site throughout the war and became the last […]


Herod the Great—The King’s Final Journey
Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April 2013 By Suzanne F. Singer

An extraordinary archaeological exhibit opened on February 12 at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. It marks the journeys of two men separated by 2,000 years. One journey was the funeral procession of King Herod the Great—feared, hated and lionized—whose monumental works still mark the landscape of Israel; the other journey was the life work […]