For those of you who missed the special on National Geographic Channel, Herod's Lost Tomb which aired Tuesday, November 25, at 9 p.m. ET, it will air again on Sun Nov 30 at 2 P---so check your local times and listings. There's more on King Herod in the December issue of National Geographic magazine. Here's an online preview of the article:
King Herod Revealed
The Holy Land's visionary builder.
By Tom Mueller
Photograph by Michael Melford
Eight miles south of Jerusalem, where the last stunted olive trees and stony cornfields fade into the naked badlands of the Judaean desert, a hill rises abruptly, a steep cone sliced off at the top like a small volcano. This is Herodium, one of the grand architectural creations of Herod the Great, King of Judaea, who raised a low knoll into a towering memorial of snowy stonework and surrounded it with pleasure palaces, splashing pools, and terraced gardens. An astute and generous ruler, a brilliant general, and one of the most imaginative and energetic builders of the ancient world, Herod guided his kingdom to new prosperity and power. Yet today he is best known as the sly and murderous monarch of Matthew's Gospel, who slaughtered every male infant in Bethlehem in an unsuccessful attempt to kill the newborn Jesus, the prophesied King of the Jews. During the Middle Ages he became an image of the Antichrist: Illuminated manuscripts and Gothic gargoyles show him tearing his beard in mad fury and brandishing his sword at the luckless infants, with Satan whispering in his ear. Herod is almost certainly innocent of this crime, of which there is no report apart from Matthew's account. But children he certainly slew, including three of his own sons, along with his wife, his mother-in-law, and numerous other members of his court. Throughout his life, he blended creativity and cruelty, harmony and chaos, in ways that challenge the modern imagination.
Israeli archaeologist Ehud Netzer has spent the past half century searching for the real Herod, as he is portrayed not in words but in stone. He has excavated many of Herod's major building sites throughout the Holy Land, exploring the palaces where the king lived, the fortresses where he fought, the landscapes where he felt most at home. Of Herod's many imaginative building projects, Herodium was the only one that bore his name, and was perhaps the closest to his heart. It was here, at the end of his daring and bloodstained career, that he was laid to rest in a noble mausoleum.
(Read more: here).
New Finds at King Herod's Tomb: 2,000-Year-Old Frescoes
Mati Milstein in Herodium, West Bank
for National Geographic News
November 19, 2008
Archaeologists exploring King Herod's tomb complex near Jerusalem have uncovered rare Roman paintings as well as two sarcophagi, or stone coffins, that could have contained the remains of Herod's sons In May 2007, veteran Hebrew University archaeologist Ehud Netzer solved one of Israel's great archaeological mysteries when he first uncovered the remains of Herod's first century-B.C. grave at the Herodium complex, located 9 miles (15 kilometers) south of Jerusalem.
(See related: "King Herod's Tomb Unearthed Near Jerusalem, Expert Says" [May 8, 2007].)
King Herod, appointed by the Romans to rule Judea between 37 and 4 B.C., is renowned for his monumental construction projects, including the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, the Caesarea complex, and the palace atop Masada.
Herod constructed Herodium as a massive and lavish administrative, residential, and burial center.
Netzer revealed new discoveries at a Wednesday press conference in Jerusalem.
Recent excavations uncovered an elaborate theater dating slightly earlier than Herod's burial complex that had been demolished to enable construction of the artificial mountain that served as his tomb.
The walls of the theater's loggia—a balcony that served as a VIP room and viewing box—are decorated with well-preserved Roman paintings of windows and outdoor scenes. (See full article: here).
See also: Lost for Centuries, Herod's Tomb Comes to Light and Tomb of King Herod's wife unearthed, Israeli archaeologist says.
Bernat Armangue / Associated Press---
Israeli archaeologist Ehud Netzer walks at the fortress of Herodium in the West Bank, where archaeologists are excavating what they believe is the tomb of King Herod.