(Jebel Fureidis) Jordan/Israel.
town ca. 8 km SE of Bethlehem with a fortified acropolis, founded toward the end of the 1st c. B.C. by Herod
the Great (Joseph. BJ 1.265
14.360; cf. Pliny HN
5.15.70). It was the capital of a toparchy; Herod was
buried there in 4 B.C. (Joseph. BJ 1.673
figured prominently in the first Romano-Jewish war (BJ
4.555, 7.163), and seems to have been Jewish headquarters in the winter of A.D. 132-33 during the second war.
Later, Byzantine monks recorded their presence in the
citadel by graffiti.
The rather elaborate town, which apparently was given
over to the members of Herod's court, was built on a
plain below and around the citadel. Josephus, in a fairly
detailed description, twice declares the hill upon which
the fortress was built to have been artificial (BJ
1.419-21; cf. AJ
15.323-25). Access was by a steep flight of
rock-cut steps encased in marble, and water was brought
from a considerable distance. The fortress was circular
in plan, with stoutly built walls and four towers, one
round and three semicircular. Recent Italian excavations
within the walls tend to bear out Josephus' declarations
of magnificence. There was an elaborate bath building
more or less on the Roman model, with the usual divisions by functional rooms (apodyterium, frigidarium,
etc.; these were all vaulted). A number of mosaic floors
and mural paintings of geometric design have been uncovered, as well as an elaborate exedra and many graffiti.
The citadel is the best-preserved Herodian construction
V. Corbo, “L'Herodion de Gebel Fureidis,” Liber Annus Studii Biblici Fransciscani
13 (1962-63, pub. 1963) 219-77PI
; id., “Chronique archdologique,”
71 (1964) 256-63P
W. L. MACDONALD