Leen Ritmeyer

High rent district. The most sumptuous, covering 2,000 square feet, and best preserved of the homes in the Herodian Quarter is this two-story dwelling appropriately called the Palatial Mansion. The ground floor, centered around a spacious courtyard, contained the living quarters and a 33- by 21-foot reception hall preserved at one point to a height of more than 11 feet; in the basement were cisterns, a storeroom and ritual baths.

Lavish as this building may have been, its use was relatively short-lived. A coin sealed beneath the entryway’s mosaic floor dates to 34 B.C.E., giving the earliest date for the building’s construction. Collapsed and charred cypress ceiling beams indicate that the Palatial Mansion shared the same fate as the rest of Jerusalem during the Roman destruction in 70 C.E.