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HERODIUM (Jebel Fureidis) Jordan/Israel.

A 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, AJ 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; AJ 17.199). It 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 in Palestine.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

V. Corbo, “L'Herodion de Gebel Fureidis,” Liber Annus Studii Biblici Fransciscani 13 (1962-63, pub. 1963) 219-77PI; id., “Chronique archdologique,” RBibl 71 (1964) 256-63P.

W. L. MACDONALD

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