ON THE COVER: Herodium from the air has the eerie appearance of a barren volcano with a gaping mouth. But if an aerial perspective like this had been possible in the first century B.C., when Herod the Great built this artificial mountain and palace-fortress in the Judean wilderness, the viewer would have seen elegantly dressed people walking through lush flower filled gardens in the rectangular courtyard, seen here across the upper half of the palace inside the mountain. Today we see three semicircular towers and one circular tower projecting from the palace perimeter; in Herod’s time, they were not truncated as they are now. Instead these four huge towers guarded the palace below.
Josephus wrote that Herod was buried here at Herodium. But the discovery of a tomb within this enormous mountain or in the royal buildings at the base of the mountain still eludes archaeologists. Ehud Netzer, excavator of Herodium, recounts his quest in “Searching for Herod’s Tomb.”