The glory of King Herod, the Judean king famous for renovating the Temple Mount and building Masada, will rise again — or at least his tomb will — Israel announced Monday. As part of a new plan, a replica of his tomb at Herodium, situated outside the West Bank city of Bethlehem, will tower to 83 feet and will be visible from Jerusalem.
Herodium, an impressive feat of ancient engineering, is a conical artificial mound built between 23 and 15 BCE that housed a fortified royal palace and tomb. Its walls rose over 200 feet high and it contained elegant courtyards and baths. It was the only one of Herod’s many famed construction projects that bore his name, and was destroyed in 70 CE during the Great Revolt against Rome.
Reconstruction of Herod’s Tomb, a plan three years in the making, is part of a larger government plan to refurbish biblical and national heritage sites. Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser announced the $50,000 plan to reconstruct Herodium on Monday.
The national reconstruction initiative includes some 300 projects from various stages in history, including the biblical and Second Temple periods. Over 100 have already been completed, including Tel Aviv’s Independence Hall, and Jerusalem’s Montefiore Windmill in Yemin Moshe — at an estimated cost of $188 million, half of which was funded by private donors.
The Prime Minister’s Office will hold hearings in March for the public to voice opposition to the Herodium project in March, Ynet reported.
Hebrew University archaeology professor Ehud Netzer ascertained Herodium to be the biblical king’s burial site in 2007, and fell to his death there in 2010.
Aside from being a ruthless, paranoid despot, King Herod is remembered for ordering the renovation of the Temple Mount, and the construction of massive fortifications around Jerusalem, the palaces at Masada, the port at Caesarea, and the monumental edifice atop the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.