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Sites In The Holy Land Coin Series
Herod, a Jew of Edomite origin, reigned as king of Eretz Israel,
under Roman patronage, for 33 years (from 37 B.C.E. until 4 B.C.E.).
He excelled in organizing and developing his kingdom, and carried
out numerous building projects both within his country and outside
it, including the Temple in Jerusalem, the port-city of Caesarea,
fortresses such as Masada and Cypros, as well as theaters and hippodromes
- all of which earned him the well-deserved title of "The Builder
the only palace, however, that actually immortalizes Herod's name.
It commemorates Herod's decisive battle there against the last Hasmonean
(Maccabean) king, whom Herod faced with great courage, almost perishing
in the combat. Herod designated it as the appropriate location for
his own burial tomb, and built an impregnable fortress here, as
a refuge from his many enemies. Herodion, at the edge of the Judean
Desert, east of Bethlehem (and about 8 miles south of Jerusalem),
was used mainly as the king's summer residence - a truly pleasure
resort in the middle of the desert, rich in water and lush vegetation
in an area otherwise parched for water. Unique in Israel for its
size and lavishness, it is the third-largest palace to be discovered
in the entire Roman world.
- Mountain-Fortress and Palace - On the top of a high natural
hill, Herod erected a 90-foot-high circular structure. The massive
fill of earth and gravel heaped up against its walls created a cone-shaped,
artificial mountain. An intimate, exotic and protected palace was
then built deep at the center of this "crater", consisting of a
specious reception room, the royal quarters, a Roman- style bathhouse,
and a courtyard surrounded by columns. Deep water wells were hewn
out of the slopes of the mountain-side.
- At the foot of this mountain, was an enormous palatial city, where
another palace, twice as large as the first, stood among magnificent
exotic ornamental gardens, storehouses, service buildings, and the
seat of the regional administration.
At its very
heart, was an immense pool (135 ft. X 210 ft.) and at its center,
an island pavilion for entertaining guests, that could be reached
only by small sailing-boats. This was also surrounded by an extensive
ornamental pleasure- garden, and collonades. An aqueduct that Herod
built ensured water supply from springs near Solomon's Pools. Herod's
tomb was certainly nearby (Josephus, 'The Jewish War', 1), but its
actual location has yet to be discovered.
Herod - After Herod's death, and that of his son Archelaos (6
B.C.E.), Herodion was occupied by Roman governors, and was retaken
by the Jews during their First Revolt against the Romans (66-73 C.E.).
It was one of the last strongholds (together with Machaeros and Masada)
to fiercely resist the Romans, and was again taken, by Bar Kokhba
and his followers during the Second Revolt (132-135 C.E.). Recently,
an extensive network of tunnels hewn out in the depths of the mountain
by Bar Kokhba's fighters, was discovered. The last inhabitants of
the site were monks and farmers during the Byzantine era (the 5th
to the 7th century C.E.). Completely abandoned since that period,
Herodion today fascinates archaeologists (who began to excavate in
1962). Many tourists are attracted to this unforgettable, impressive
site, with its breathtakingly beautiful location.
of the Coins
Obverse: The site ofHerodion as seen from an aerial photograph,
showing the Judean Desert hills, with the sun overhead. The
word "Herodion" in Hebrew and in English.
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P.O. Box 20255
Fountain Hills, AZ 85268