Reconstructing Herod’s Tomb II

Written by Michael Moore

February 26, 2017

What did the monument of Herod’s tomb look like?

The fragments illustrated in yesterday’s posting give evidence of an ornamented tomb with triglyphs and, potentially, an urn (although the details of the piece that was found are not polished smooth).


Tomb of Jehoshaphat with Absalom’s Pillar; Tomb of Zecharia; Benei Hezir monument. (drawings adapted from Hachlili 2005, p. 33)

The Kidron Valley tombs come from from the 1st century CE, late 1st century BCE and the late 2nd to early 1st century CE respectively. These three tombs and another nearby, but without a monument, all hold in common distylos in antis façades. Distylos in antis is a colonnade of two columns flanked by two pilasters which support an opening to a buiding or, in certain cases, are merely a decorative motif (as in the case of Absalom’s Pillar and the Tomb of Zecharia). As is the case with Absalom’s Pillar and the Benei Hezir, triglyphs are found in the architrave above the columns; so it would have been for the Herodion tomb (see the decorative element in the foreground on yesterday’s photo). As is the case with Absalom’s Pillar and the Tomb of Zecharia, the capitols were ionic with scrolls (see the third element in the same picture).

The monument podium that was preserved at the Herodion is about 10×10 meters, which is comparatively larger than those from the Kidron Valley (c. 9×9, 6×6 and 4×4, respectively). Until more architectural fragments come to light at the Herodion excavations, any of these monuments are legitimate parallels, if one would like to envision what the tomb looked like from a distance.

Hachlili, R., Jewish Funerary Customs, Practices and Rites in the Second Temple Period. Brill: Leiden and Boston. 2005.

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