There are thousands of images and representations related to the subject of the Herodian Machaerus. The most common subjects are Salome bringing the head of the Baptist on a salver to Herodias and the beheading of John the Baptist itself. These portrayals usually reflect contemporary European royal castles and courts with the figures wearing medieval, Renaissance, or Baroque costumes rather than ancient garments.

Just a hundred years before the first archaeological excavations on the Machaerus hilltop, Edward Armitage made, in 1868, a fascinating oil painting, titled Herod’s Birthday Feast, which is today among the treasures of the Guildhall Art Gallery in London. The Victorian painter was an alumnus of the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Although the Gospel scene representation is based on Armitage’s imagination, it is the closest to the architectural and archaeological reality of the Herodian royal court of Machaerus known in the history of art. In this representation, the crowned Antipas is sitting on his throne on the left side; his wife Herodias, the Hasmonean royal princess, sits next to him; and Salome, her daughter, dances before them all.