Remains of Herod’s Jerusalem Palace Unearthed -- By: Bryant G. Wood

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 15:2 (Spring 2002)
Article: Remains of Herod’s Jerusalem Palace Unearthed
Author: Bryant G. Wood


Remains of Herod’s Jerusalem Palace Unearthed

Bryant G. Wood

During his time as king of Judea, Herod the Great (37–4 BC) constructed a magnificent palace on the west side of Jerusalem. The only remnant one can see today is the so-called Tower of David just inside the Jappa Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. The lower portion, 20 m (66 ft) square, was constructed by Herod. The upper portion, made of smaller stones, is much later.

Josephus, the Jewish historian of the first century AD, described Herod’s palace in some detail.

Now as these towers were themselves on the north side of the wall, the king had a palace inwardly thereto adjoined; which exceeds my ability to describe it; for it was so very curious as to want no cost or skill in its construction, but was entirely walled about to the height of 30 cubits, and was adorned with towers at equal distances, and with large bed chambers, that would contain beds for 100 guests apiece, in which the variety of the stones is not to be expressed; for a large quantity of those that were rare of that kind was collected together. Their roofs were also wonderful, both for the length of the beams and the splendor of their ornaments. The number of the rooms was also very great, and the variety of the figures what were about them was prodigious; their furniture was complete, and the greatest part of the vessels that were put in them was of silver and gold. There were besides many porticoes, one beyond another, round about, and in each of those porticos curious pillars; yet were all the courts that were exposed to the air everywhere green. There were moreover several groves of trees, and long walks through them, with deep canals, and cisterns, that in several parts were filled with brazen statues, through which the water ran out (Wars of the Jews 5.4.4).

He built himself a palace in the upper city, raising the rooms to a very great height, and adorning them with the most costly furniture of gold, and marble seats, and beds; and these were so large that they could contain very many companies of men. These apartments were also of distinct magnitudes, and had particular names given them; for one apartment was called Caesar’s, another Agrippa’s (Antiquities of the Jews 15.9.3).

Deep under the floor of a Turkish soldiers’ barracks built in the late 19th century, archaeologists are laying bare foundation walls for the platform upon which Herod the Great’s palace was built.

Walls constructed by Roman engineers over 2000 years ago to support the platform o...

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