Richard Nowitz

The mountain palace-fortress. In this bird’s-eye view that Herod never enjoyed, many of the features of his elaborate desert retreat may be easily identified. The round tower on the east (at 11 o’clock) will be our starting point. Counterclockwise from this tower, a section of the original double-walled cylinder that surrounded the palace is adjacent to the open side of the semi-circular tower to the north (at 8 o’clock). (Note that the flat arm encircling the mountain top outside the towers; a not fanned by the cylinder walls, it is created by fill heaped against the cylinder walls to protect and enclose the palace.)

Continuing counterclockwise from the section of excavated double walls, past the northern semi-circular tower, we come to a modern staircase descending into the palace courtyard on either side of it an architectural fragments gathered by the archaeologists and piles of round stores, probably prepared to hurl from the towers as weapons against the Romans. To the right of the staircase, between the two semi-circular towers is a rectangular room, half in shadow. Built by Herod as a reception area, the room was changed to a synagogue by the Jewish rebels in the First Revolt who added beaches along the walls and columns to support a roof.

Directly in front of the round tower is the spacious peristyle courtyard, some of its columns still erect.

Unseen, at lower left are extensive remains of Herod’s elegant Roman bath, with its hot, cold and tepid bathing areas.