Herodes» grav på Herodion

Tidsskriftet Smithsonian har ein lengre og innhaldsrik artikkel om Herodion og om funnet av kong Herodes si grav på staden. Eg har tidlegare skrive ein del om funnet av denne grava i 2007 (bl a her).

Eg anbefaler gjerne Barbara Kreigers artikkel, som for øvrig viser at ikkje alle er like overbeviste om at Ehud Netzer verkeleg har funne Herodes si grav!

Her er eit utdrag:

Finding King Herod’s Tomb
After a 35-year search, an Israeli archaeologist is certain he has solved the mystery of the biblical figure’s final resting place

Shielding my eyes from the glare of the morning sun, I look toward the horizon and the small mountain that is my destination: Herodium, site of the fortified palace of King Herod the Great. I’m about seven miles south of Jerusalem, not far from the birthplace of the biblical prophet Amos, who declared: «Let justice stream forth like water.» Herod’s reign over Judea from 37 to 4 B.C. is not remembered for justice but for its indiscriminate cruelty. His most notorious act was the murder of all male infants in Bethlehem to prevent the fulfillment of a prophecy heralding the birth of the Messiah. There is no record of the decree other than the Gospel of Matthew, and biblical scholars debate whether it actually took place, but the story is in keeping with a man who arranged the murders of, among others, three of his own sons and a beloved wife.

Long an object of scholarly as well as popular fascination, Herodium, also called Herodion, was first positively identified in 1838 by the American scholar Edward Robinson, who had a knack for locating biblical landmarks. After scaling the mountain and comparing his observations with those of the first century Jewish-Roman historian Flavius Josephus, Robinson concluded that «all these particulars…leave scarcely a doubt, that this was Herodium, where the [Judean] tyrant sought his last repose.» Robinson’s observation was confirmed later that century by Conrad Schick, the famous German architect and archaeologist who conducted extensive surveys of Jerusalem and its nearby sites.

Mot slutten av artikkelen skildrar ho korleis professor Ehud Netzer som fann grava i 2007, viser henne fram på staden:

Clad in work shorts, hiking shoes and a well-worn leather Australian bush hat, Netzer scampers up the path to the tomb site. The septuagenarian offers me a hand as I seek a toehold. He greets the crew in Hebrew and Arabic as we pass from one section, where workers wield pickaxes, to another, where a young architect sketches decorative elements.

The tomb site is nearly barren, but the podium that bore the royal sarcophagus hints at magnificence. It is set into the stony earth, partially exposed and unmarred, the joints between the smooth white ashlars (slabs of square stone) so fine as to suggest they were cut by a machine. Netzer has also found the corner pilasters (columns partially built into the walls), enabling him to estimate that the mausoleum, nestled against the side of the mountain, stood on a base 30 by 30 feet and was some 80 feet high—as tall as a seven-story building. It was built of a whitish limestone called meleke (Arabic for «royal») that was also used in Jerusalem and in the nearby Tomb of Absalom—named after the rebellious son of King David, but likely the tomb of the Judean King Alexander Jannaeus.

The mausoleum’s design is similar to the Tomb of Absalom, which dates to the first century B.C. and is notable for its conical roof, a motif also seen at Petra. The remnants of the mausoleum’s facade are composed of the three elements of classical entablature: architraves (ornamental beams that sit atop columns), friezes (horizontal bands above the architraves) and cornices (crown molding found on the top of buildings). Netzer has also found pieces of five decorative urns. The urn was a funerary motif, used notably at Petra.

Despite the work still to be done—excavating, assembling, publishing the data—Netzer is clearly gratified by what he has learned, which is, he says, the «secret» of Herodium: how Herod found a way to keep his vow and be buried in the desert. «In my field, ancient archaeology, you could say that once circumstances give me the opportunity to be quite certain, it’s not in my character to have further doubts.»

(Les meir)

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