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Herodion
by Galyn Wiemers, Generation Word

Herodian
Lower Herodian

Located 7.5 miles south of Jerusalem The Herodion is a 197 foot high artificial mountain shaped like a cone to hold a 98 foot high fortress/palace 7 stories high 2,500 feet above sea level built 23-20 BC. An administrative center called Lower Herodion is set at its base.

Upper Herodion included:

  1. a circular fortress,
  2. an elaborate palace,
  3. two walls 8 feet apart with 4 towers,
  4. two stories underground with barrel-vaulted ceilings,
  5. Cisterns filled with rainwater,
  6. Herod’s palace with colored tiles and mosaics on the floor,
  7. a garden surrounded by porticos with columns with Corinthian capitals,
  8. a bathhouse with earliest domed roof built in Israel. Of the four towers the eastern tower was the largest (60 ft. diameter).

Josephus wrote that there were 200 white marble steps up the side of the Herodion. Jewish zealots built a synagogue and ritual baths in 66 BC and Jewish rebels of the Bar Kochba revolt cut tunnels and hidden openings for sneak attacks in 132 AD. Byzantine monks built churches here.

In 1962 excavation began on Upper Herodion and Ehud Netzer began to excavate Lower Herodion in 1972 until recently when a protective railing gave way at Herodion and Netzer fell to his death in 2010. Josephus records that Herod the Great was buried here, and in 2007 Ehud Netzer found Herod’s tomb.

Lower Herodion was below on a 38 acre plain to the north built around the center piece of a large pool (230 by 150 ft. and 10 ft. deep) used for swimming and boating and  filled with water from an aqueduct coming from Solomon’s pools to the west near Bethlehem (Artas). The pool had a 50 ft. diameter circular colonnaded pavilion in the center and was surrounded by:

  1. buildings,
  2. gardens,
  3. porticos with Ionic capitals,
  4. large reception halls with pilasters and frescos.

Herod the Great's tomb was discovered at the base of the Herodion in the spring of 2007. View images.


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A Labeled Model of one of Herod's Palace Fortresses.
The Herodion is seven and a half miles southeast of Jerusalem.
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The Herodion was, in a sense, a man made mountain.
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The sides of the entire Herodion were covered with fit stones like these making the man-made mountain structurally secure and impossible to be climbed by an enemy force.
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Looking down the slopes of Herodion from beside the east tower.
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To the east of Herodion is the location of a hill that Herod had moved to help construct the Herodion.
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This is the East Tower as seen standing beside it on the east side of the Herodion.
The following image shows where I was standing when I took the photo.
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The above photo is taken of the remains fo the East Tower from the "X"
The next few photos are taken over the edge into the center of the Herodion from about the same location.
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Looking down inside the Herodion from the top of the ridge facing west
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Inside the Herodion
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Inside the Herodion
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Inside the Herodion
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The remains of the west side of the East Tower
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These stone balls would be rolled down that side of the Herodion Mountain at the enemy.
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The four following photos were taken in these three locations:
1) The Domed Bath.
2) The remains of Corinthian Capitals
3) The Pillars of a Portico inside the Herodion.
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One of the first orbed ceiling to be constructed is found in one of Herod's bath houses in the Herodion
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This bath house still has the decorative stucco from 2,000 years ago.
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Toni sits on the remains of the Corinthian Capitals that had decorated Herod's palace fortress he called Herodion.
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Galyn and Toni among the columns of a collapsed portico.
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This is the view of the East Tower from inside the Herodion.
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Galyn at the base of the East tower inside the Herodion.

The large water storage cistens for the Herodion can be entered by going down the stairs in this picture.
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The view from on top the Herodion.
Both Bethlehem and Jerusalem are easily seen.
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At the base of Herodion was another palace.
Here is a large swimming pool with the remains of an island in the middle.
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This is a ground view of the lower pool.
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A royal bath house by the Lower Pool.
Notice the columns in the back ground.
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The Stucco in the round bath house in the Herodion

Great Herodian photos by Carl Rasmussen.
More Herodian information