During his reign, Herod the Great built or renovated several palace fortresses, including Masada, Herodium, and Machaerus. Each of these sites is famous for its own reasons, but the palace at Machaerus holds a special place as the location of Salome’s infamous dance, which led to the beheading of John the Baptist. Mentioned in Matthew 14:6-7, Mark 6:14-29, Josephus (Antiquities XVIII.119), and early Christian texts, Salome’s dance and John’s beheading are viewed by many—including the lead excavator of Machaerus—as historical events supported by extra-biblical evidence.

In this collection put together by the Biblical Archaeology Society, learn about the site where John the Baptist was executed. Read of excavations and recent reconstruction efforts, as well as Machaerus’s history and role as the defender of Judea against invasion.



Machaerus: Where Salome Danced and John the Baptist Was Beheaded
Biblical Archaeology Review, September/October 2012 By Győző Vörös

Salome danced at Machaerus. And John the Baptist was beheaded there. The gospel story is supplemented by the Jewish historian Josephus: It all began when Herod Antipas (King Herod the Great’s son who ruled Galilee and Perea between 4 B.C. and 39 A.D.; see the following article) lusted after his brother’s wife Herodias. Herod […]

Anastylosis at Machaerus
Biblical Archaeology Review, January/February 2015 By Győző Vörös

This is the story of the re-erection of two ancient Herodian columns—one Doric, the other Ionic—on the basis of the principle of anastylosis at the archaeological site of Machaerus in Jordan.

Machaerus: A Palace-Fortress with Multiple Mikva’ot
Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August 2017 By Győző Vörös

Several mikva’ot (Jewish ritual baths) have been uncovered at Machaerus, the palace-fortress on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea where Salome danced and John the Baptist was beheaded. Archaeologist Győző Vörös takes readers on a journey through past and current archaeological excavations that have resulted in the discovery of these ritual baths.

Restoring Herod’s Throne Niche at Machaerus
Biblical Archaeology Review, Winter 2020 By Győző Vörös

King Herod the Great built an impressive palace-fortress at Machaerus, east of the Dead Sea. See how the site’s excavators restored the throne niche in his royal palace.