In 1879, Conrad Schick, the famous Swiss architect and archaeologist, discovered and explored and drew this section of opus reticulatum wall near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. In 1977, Israeli archaeologist Ehud Netzer returned to Schick’s site, where he uncovered more of the patterned stonework, for example the small area below at the end of an excavation trench. Netzer noted that all of this opus reticulatum stonework was part of a circular wall 100 feet in diameter. Netzer claims that the wall encloses Herod’s family tomb.

Opus reticulatum was a Roman building technique common in Italy but rarely seen in the Near East. An example of it is seen below from Herod’s winter palace at Jericho. The opus reticulatum wall at left has been restored above the dark lower level of the wall, as part of a BAR preservation project. It clearly shows the characteristic graceful lattice pattern of stones.

The opus reticulatum in effect provided a form for the creation of a wall that could be straight or curved. In the original wall, concrete was poured behind the diamond-shaped rows of stones, and plaster was smoothed over the front of them. Here at Jericho, some well-preserved plaster still adheres to the lower courses of the walls. Sometimes frescoes were painted on the plaster.