The discovery of Herod’s Tomb is making the news in a big way today. The site of Herodium has long been known and has been excavated since the 1970s.
My favorite two headlines so far come from CT’s blog:
King Herod Still Dead
Haaretz updates report on tomb discovery.
Evil King Unearthed
Hebrew University prof digs up King Herod the Great.
Jim West’s coverage is here:
The Hebrew University has issued a press release concerning the discovery of Herod’s tomb:
Herodium is the most outstanding among King Herod’s building projects. This is the only site that carries his name and the site where he chose to be buried and to memorialize himself — all of this with the integration of a huge, unique palace at the fringe of the desert, said Prof. Netzer. Therefore, he said, the exposure of his tomb becomes the climax of this site’s research.
The approach to the burial site – which has been described by the archaeologists involved as one of the most striking finds in Israel in recent years – was via a monumental flight of stairs (6.5 meters wide) leading to the hillside that were especially constructed for the funeral procession.
The mausoleum itself was almost totally dismantled in ancient times. In its place remained only part of its well built podium, or base, built of large white ashlars (dressed stone) in a manner and size not previously revealed at Herodium.
Read the whole report.
UPDATE: Note that at the bottom of the Press Release is a link to a Word Document version which is a bit longer and contains a bit more information.
Another interesting section from the press release is the existence (and condition) of the sarcophagus.
Spread among the ruins are pieces of a large, unique sarcophagus (close to 2.5 meters long), made of a Jerusalemite reddish limestone, which was decorated by rosettes. The sarcophagus had a triangular cover, which was decorated on its sides. This is assumed with certainty to be the sarcophagus of Herod. Only very few similar sarcophagi are known in the country and can be found only in elaborate tombs such as the famous one at the King’s Tomb on Selah a-Din Street in East Jerusalem. Although no inscriptions have been found yet at Herodium, neither on the sarcophagus nor in the building remains, these still might be found during the continuation of the dig.
Worthy of note is the fact that the sarcophagus was broken into hundreds of pieces, no doubt deliberately. This activity, including the destruction of the monument, apparently took place in the years 66-72 C.E. during the first Jewish revolt against the Romans, while Jewish rebels took hold of the site, according to Josephus and the archaeological evidence.
(Via Dr Jim West.)
UPDATE: JW also pointed to more (and better) pics of the site from Der Spiegel. He also now has a running list of updates, so I will leave that to him and encourage you to visit his site for the latest!