HERODIUM, Judean fortress built during the Second Temple period, located 60 stadia (c. 7 mi.) S. of Jerusalem near Tekoa. It was built by Herod at the spot where he had routed his pursuers during his flight from Jerusalem to Masada in 40 B.C.E. It was also his burial place and he was interred there with great pomp (Jos., Ant., 17:199; Wars, 1:673). Josephus relates that the fortress was erected on a natural hill which was further heightened by debris heaped on it. A staircase, with 200 marble steps, led to the fortress wall which was a circular structure defended by round towers; within the wall were several palaces. At the foot of the mountain a settlement was established, the water supply for which was brought from Solomon's Pools by means of an aqueduct passing through Naḥal Tahuna (Ant., 14:360; 15:323–5; Wars, 1:265, 419ff.; 4:518). Herodium is identified with Jebel Fureidis, an artificial hill 2½ mi. (4 km.) southeast of Bethlehem which looks like a truncated cone from afar. The site was partly excavated by V. Corbo on behalf of the Custodia di Terra Santa in 1962–67. The fortress was found to consist of a double circular curtain wall with four towers (three semicircular and one round). Within the wall was a colonnaded portico with two exedrae, a bath, and a hall with four pillars. Traces of pre-Herodian and post-Herodian occupation were found; the latter included remains (including a synagogue) from the time of the Jewish War (66–70/73), the Bar Kokhba War (132–35), a Roman garrison, and a Byzantine monastery. Herodium also served as the capital of a toparchy (Wars, 3:55; Pliny, Natural History, 5:15). During the Jewish War it was one of the last strongholds remaining in Zealot hands and was captured by the Romans (by the governor Lucius Bassus) a short time after the fall of Jerusalem (Wars, 4:555; 7:163). According to documents found in Wadi Murabba'at in the Judean Desert, it served as one of Simeon Bar Kokhba's district headquarters during 132–135 C.E. In Byzantine times a monastery was erected there. Clearance of the site was continued by G. Foerster in 1968–69. More extensive excavations at the foot of Herodium ("lower Herodium") were conducted at the site by E. Netzer in 1970–87 revealing a large pool surrounded by a garden with porticoes, a racecourse, and a rectangular hall built of ashlars as well as additional remains from the Byzantine period, notably the remains of churches.
Sources: Schick, in: ZDPV, 3 (1880), 88ff.; Alt, in: PJB, 24 (1928), 18; P. Benoît et al., Les Grottes de Murabba'at (1961), 122 no. 24; Yadin, in: IEJ, 11 (1961), 51–52; V. Corbo, in: LA, 13 (1962–63), 219–77 (It.); 17 (1967), 65–121 (It.); idem, in: Yerushalayim le-Doroteha (1968), 42–47 (It.); V. Corbo, Herodion, vol. I (1989); E. Netzer, Greater Herodium. Qedem, 13 (1981).
[Michael Avi-Yonah /Shimon Gibson (2nd ed.)]
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