Herodium PDF Print E-mail
Written by Stephen Langfur
Article Index
The site
The tomb
Later history

The later history

Triclinium, later synagogue (?), in the upper palace of Herodium After the fall of Jerusalem, Josephus tells us, the surviving free rebels took refuge in Herodium, Machaerus and Masada. In 71 or 72, a new Roman legate named Bassus "secured the submission of the fortress of Herodium together with its defenders" (War VII 6.1). The water supply was probably decisive: holding the aqueduct from the Artas spring, the Romans could maintain a siege for as long as it took, and there was no one to whom the rebels could send for help. According to Netzer, they dug a tunnel to Herod's cisterns from above, but it was mostly obliterated by the tunneling of the next group of rebels, to whom we turn now.

In a cave at Wadi Murabat above the Dead Sea, rental contracts were discovered mentioning Herodium as an administrative center during the Bar Kokhba Revolt (ca. 130-135 AD). The contracts call Herodium "Herodis" (whence perhaps the Arabic Furedis). About a thousand bronze coins minted under Bar Kokhba turned up near the upper palace's southern tower: perhaps the center's treasury. The relatively dense population of rebels in the small space above would account for the many rather simple foundations of walls that Corbo found: they partitioned the area into small rooms. In Herod's colonnaded courtyard the rebels erected a large lime kiln. Just outside the entrance to the old dining room they made a ritual bath (mikveh). They probably converted the dining room itself into a synagogue with benches on the sides. At the western end of the double encasement wall, the building stones are displaced and there are traces of fire—perhaps signs of their final battle in 135.

From the Byzantine period, numerous Christian symbols appear in upper Herodium. The rich monastic literature, however, mentions no monastery here. Joe Zias, has argued the case for identifying Herodium with an unlocated site named "the Phordisia" (whence Furedis?), where the beautiful Byzantine Empress Eudocia, around 438 AD, founded a hospital for 400 lepers.