September 22, 2010
Archaeologist Discover King Herod’s Theater Box
Israeli archaeologists said Tuesday that they have excavated a private theater box in a 400-seat facility at King Herod's winter palace in the Judean desert.
Ehud Netzer of Jerusalem's Hebrew University told The Associated Press (AP) that the room provides further evidence of King Herod's famous taste for extravagance.
He said that Herod commissioned Roman artists to decorate the theater walls with elaborate paintings and plaster moldings around 15 B.C. The upper portions of the walls show off paintings of windows overlooking a river and a seascape with a large sailboat.
Netzer said that this is the first time this painting style has been found in Israel.
Herod was the Jewish proxy ruler of the Holy Land under Roman occupation from 37 to 4 B.C. He is known for his extensive building throughout the area.
The archaeologists first excavated the area in 2007. The site sits atop a man-made hill 2,230 feet high. Netzer said that the site is like a "country club," with a pool, baths and gardens fed by pools and aqueducts.
However, Netzer said that archaeological evidence shows the theater's life was short-lived. Builders deliberately destroyed it to preserve the conic shape of the man-made hill.
The complex became a stronghold for Jewish rebels fighting Roman occupation after King Herod's death during the 1st century B.C. The site suffered significant battle damage before Roman soldiers destroyed it in A.D. 71, a year after they razed the Second Temple in Jerusalem.
Image Caption: Aerial photo of Herodium. Courtesy Wikipedia
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