King Herod's ancient tomb 'found'

An Israeli archaeologist says he has found the tomb of King Herod, the ruler of Judea while it was under Roman administration in the first century BC.

After a search of more than 30 years, Ehud Netzer of the Hebrew University says he has located the tomb at Herodium, a site south of Jerusalem.

Herod was noted in the New Testament for his Massacre of the Innocents.

Told of Jesus' birth, Herod ordered all children under two in Bethlehem to be killed, the Gospel of Matthew said.

According to the New Testament, Jesus' father Joseph was warned of the threat in a dream and fled with his wife and child to Egypt.

Major find

"When I realised it was the tomb there was great happiness," Prof Netzer told the BBC news website.

"Everyone has an interest in the Holy Land and Herod's tomb is part of that story."

Herod is remembered for his expansion of the Second Jewish Temple and the construction of the walls of the old city of Jerusalem.

He also built the fortress of Masada which became the last stand of Jewish rebels in 73 AD.

If it is confirmed, this will rank as a major archaeological discovery, BBC Jerusalem correspondent Tim Franks says.

Experts had assumed that King Herod was buried somewhere within the palace complex he had constructed on a flattened hilltop in the Judean desert, but they had repeatedly struggled to find any evidence to back up their theories.

The team announced its findings in detail at a news conference on Tuesday.

Yaakov Kalman, an archaeologist who participated in the excavations, told the BBC that many pieces of sarcophagus were spread across the site.

He said that the team of archaeologists are convinced that they have found Herod's tomb, which was described by the first century historian, Josephus Flavius.

King Herod was appointed "King of the Jews" by the Roman authorities in about 40 BC.


Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/middle_east/6633979.stm

Published: 2007/05/08 13:03:00 GMT

© BBC MMVII

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