Biblical Archaeology Review 34:1, January/February 2008

ReViews: The Buildings of Herod

The Architecture of Herod, the Great Builder

Herod the Great is widely recognized as the greatest builder of ancient times in the Land of Israel. The remains of structures he erected form a major portion of the architectural landscape at the turn of the era. Their size and grandeur still evoke awe after 2,000 years. Indeed, these remains eternalize Herod as the builder non pareil.

Archaeologist and architect Ehud Netzer here summarizes and interprets the numerous building projects Herod undertook in the Land of Israel throughout his reign (37–4 B.C.E.).

Herod erected a variety of buildings serving a wide range of functions. His ambitions as builder knew no bounds. He overcame every natural, economic and political obstacle. When difficulties arose, he found creative solutions. His buildings served his political aims, as well as his personal ambitions.

Herod founded new cities like Caesarea Maritima, where he constructed a unique deep-water harbor, as well as a pagan temple and various large public buildings.

In Jerusalem he built a new temple for his Jewish subjects within a compound unparalleled in size and splendor. Nothing like it has been found in the entire Roman Empire.

He supplied an abundance of water to a series of fortresses in the Judean Desert, such as Masada and Herodion (also called Herodium). In this way these fortresses could be transformed into grand palaces.

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