The Herodium Expedition

ROYAL RESIDENCE IN THE ROUND. In the 1960s Father Virgilio Corbo of Jerusalem’s Studium Biblical Franciscanum excavated the remains of the imposing round palace/fortress that Herod built on the mount of Herodium. The impressive structure measured 200 feet in diameter and was encircled by two concentric seven-story walls, separated by 12 feet. The interior of the palace was divided in half—on one side a large courtyard with a peristyle and on the other living quarters and a bathhouse. At each of the four cardinal compass points stood a tower. Three of these were semicircular and probably contained guest rooms and dormitories. The eastern tower (at top in this photo), however, was a full circle—larger than the other towers and with a solid base. Some scholars have speculated that Herod was buried in the eastern tower, but Netzer rejects this theory due to the lack of evidence and because burying a corpse inside a residence would have rendered the entire palace ritually impure according to Jewish law.