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Archive for the ‘Herodion’ Category

I had an operation on my wrist last week, and find that the restricted movement that has been imposed upon me for the next 10 days means I’m looking for things I can do without causing too much pain. I decided video editing was a safe thing to do – use one hand, point and click. Okay there have been a few moments when I’ve forgotten and tried to hold a button down, but the sharp pain up my arm reminds me it’s not the thing to do! Anyway, I’ve put together a short video of my trip to Israel and include it here to give you a flavour not only of the trip, but also of the sights and sounds of land.

 

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Building and …

Herod the Great ruled the ancient kingdom of Judea from around 37 BC to 4 BC.  He built lavish palaces, seaports, aqueducts, and temples, including the magnificent Temple Mount in Jerusalem; the massive stones of the outer wall of the Temple Mount still stand today in the Old City of Jerusalem, where they are known as the Western Wall.   We had already visited the Western Wall, today it would be Herod’s desert palace fortress at Herodion, built in the years 23-20BC  

This amazing volcano-shaped desert palace fortress 5 miles southeast of Bethlehem, with a series of underground tunnels hewn out of a mountain and topped with a magnificent palace complete with bathhouses and guest quarters, is regarded as one of the most astonishing engineering feats of the ancient world.   We stood in the lower city and saw the excavations of the gardens, pool (large enough to sail boats in) and living accommodation at the foot of what looks like a hill with a winding road to take you to the top.   But this is an artificial mound, and when I got to the top I was not prepared for what we saw.  

Herod's Desert Palace Fortress at Herodion

Herod's Desert Palace Fortress at Herodion

Initially the palace was built with walls that stood high above the natural hill. Later the external walls were hidden behind a land fill that covered the walls from all sides. The earth was dug out from a nearby hill and moved to create this new hill.  Our guide spoke of that “faith that could move mountains” suggesting that it could perhaps be an allusion to this, as the feat would still have been something that was known and spoken about in the area.   So as we stood at the top and looked down into the hill what we saw were the remains of courtyards, rooms and bath houses, towers, columns and stairs.  And it was the stairs that would hold the next surprise; the water to the lower city was supplied to the lake by an aqueduct from the area of Bethlehem, but the water for the upper city was supplied by cisterns and fed from rainfall.  And it was down into the tunnels and cisterns that we next went, where there is another story of the people of Israel during the times of the revolts against the Romans.    

All in all a site well worth the visit.

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