Archaeologist from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Archaeology have unearthed the ancient corridor that lead to Herod the Great’s palace – the fortress of Herodium. The palace, located about 7 miles south of Jerusalem, was excavated to reveal a space 65 feet long, 65 feet high, and 20 feet wide leading directly into the palace’s courtyard. The space may have been backfilled when Herod, aware of his impending death, decided to convert the whole hilltop complex into a massive memorial mound, a royal burial monument on an epic scale.
The main feature of the entryway is an impressive corridor with a complex system of arches spanning its width on three separate levels. These arches buttressed the corridor’s massive side-walls, allowing the King and his entourage direct passage into the Palace Courtyard.
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem described the discovery in more detail:
“In addition, the excavations in the arched corridor also turned up impressive evidence from the Bar Kokhba Revolt period (132-135/6 CE): hidden tunnels dug on the site by the rebels as part of the guerilla warfare they waged against the Romans. Supported in part by wooden beams, these tunnels exited from the hilltop fortress by way of the corridor’s walls, through openings hidden in the corridor. One of the tunnels revealed a well-preserved construction of 20 or so cypress-wood branches, arranged in a cross-weave pattern to support the tunnel’s roof.”
Even though Herodium is located in the West Bank, the Israeli government has designated the site as a park and wants to turn it into a tourist destination. The excavation of the arched corridor will allow visitors direct access to the Herodium hilltop palace-fortress, in the same way that Herod entered it 2,000 years ago.