Herodium, Judean Desert, West Bank

Herodium was a fortress built by Herod the Great from 23 to 15 BC in memory of his victory over Antigonus in 40 BC. He was considered one of the greatest builders of his time—his palace was built on the edge of the desert and was situated atop an artificial hill, geography did not daunt him. He died at his winter palace in Jericho, however according to his wishes, he is believed to have been buried at Herodium. The city was conquered and destroyed by the Romans in 71 AD.

This is the only site that was named after King Herod the Great. It was known by the Crusaders as the “Mountain of Franks”. Arab locals call it Jabal al-Fourdis (“Mountain of Paradise”).

The ruins are located in the Judean desert, 6 km to the south east of Bethlehem.

More about Herod the Great

More about Herodium


The Murthly Hours

f. 12r: Magi, or Kings, Before Herod Scotland, France, England (c. 1280s) From the National Library of Scotland:

The Murthly Hours is one of Scotland’s great medieval treasures. Written and illuminated in Paris in the 1280s, it also contains full-page miniatures by English artists of the same period, and was one of the most richly decorated manuscripts in medieval Scotland. Medieval additions include probably the second oldest example of Gaelic written in Scotland.

The entire manuscript has been reproduced here. In the Folios section, you can browse page by page or select a folio from the complete list of titles.

Laurel submitted to medievalpoc:

Herod in the Murthly Hoursdigital.nls.uk

Thought you might be interested in this miniature from the Murthly Hours, which was produced in England in the 13th century.

Love this blog so much and I think you’re doing really important work. Thank you!

Wow, what a great submission!

I’m noticing more and more that it seems like Herod is one of those figures that was commonly depicted with dark or black skin in European Medieval manuscripts, and that at some unknown point, he became just another white figure. There is probably a rather good paper to be written and research to be done on whys and hows of that. ;)

Also interesting is how this is a more pan-European document than a lot of the manuscripts I’ve posted. It was produced partially in Paris, which was a hub of manuscript Illuminators (including many women, FYI), but was used in Scotland (with some of the oldest Gaelic text, as mentioned above) and had English miniatures included as well!

If it wasn’t clear, you can read the book and examine the miniatures here, although their viewer’s not the best.

The art of Gustave Moreau—born on this day in 1826—stands apart from that of his realist and impressionist contemporaries in nineteenth-century France, particularly in the mystical and enigmatic quality of his paintings of biblical and mythological subjects. He is considered an important precursor to the symbolist and surrealist movements, and his students included Henri Matisse and Georges Rouault.

Now on view: http://bit.ly/1VxifK8

Old coins force re-think on Jerusalem’s Western Wall

Israeli archaeologists on Wednesday said they had found ancient coins that overturned widely-held beliefs about the origins of Jerusalem’s Western Wall, one of Judaism’s holiest sites.

For centuries, many thought the wall was built by King Herod - also infamous, in the Christian tradition, for his efforts to hunt down the baby Jesus in the original Christmas story.

But archaeologists said they had found coins buried under the wall’s foundations minted 20 years after King Herod’s death in 4 B.C., showing the structure was completed by his successors.

King Herod's Tomb a Mystery Yet Again

Herod the Great, the king of Judea who ruled not long before the time of Jesus, seems to have eluded historians once again.

In 2007 archaeologists announced they had found the great king’s tomb, a surprisingly modest mausoleum that was part of the Herodium, a massive complex built by Herod on a cone-shaped hill in the desert outside Jerusalem.

But what everyone thought was his final resting place may not be. The modest structure is too small and modest for the ostentatious king; its mediocre construction and design are at odds with Herod’s reputation as a master planner and builder, archaeologists now say. Read more.

‘The Bible is not the only literature we have of Herod’s crimes. He gave himself the nickname “the Great.” The Bible gives details of his life and character, as does Titus Flavius Josephus. Both agree that he slaughtered thousands of people at whims, whenever he felt his rule threatened. It wasn’t even his rule, really, since he was king of Judea while Judea was a Roman province. He answered to the Roman Emperor.

When his councilors informed him, circa 9-4 BC, of a Jewish prophecy of a young male child being born around Bethlehem who would take away Herod’s power, Herod responded matter-of-factly by massacring all the male children 2 years old and younger throughout the region around Bethlehem. The Bible states that Jesus, 2 years old or younger, was saved by his parents through divine intervention, and they fled to Egypt until after Herod died.

Josephus details more of his utter immorality. As he was dying of old age, Herod became more and more paranoid of everything, afraid of dying and losing all his power. He knew that all of Judea hated him passionately, so to force Judea to mourn after his death, he invited thousands of rabbis to Jerusalem under some pretense, then had them taken captive. Upon his death, they were to be slaughtered. When he died, his sister Salome (not the Salome who had John the Baptist beheaded) and his son Archilaus contravened this order and set the rabbis free, fearing that killing them would be “more than a little impolitic.”

But God got Herod back, if you believe in God. The Bible states that his death was due to extraordinarily vile diseases, and Josephus corroborates this. He suffered from chronic nephritis throughout his life, complicated by diabetes from obesity, Fournier’s gangrene, which causes the entire groin area to rot, and scabies, also called “the Seven Year Itch.” The scabies produced grotesque ballooning and worms in his scrotum, and a nauseating stench from his genitals. He most likely died of kidney failure.’