The palace of King Herod

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Ritual bath discovered

In this palace, Salome danced for Herod


Archaeologists find monumental mikveh – a ritual bath – at the palace of King Herod in Jordan. In this place John the Baptist was killed after Salome had danced for the ruler.

In the ruins of Machaerus, the fort of King Herod in Jordan, archaeologists found a giant mikveh. The fortress near the Dead Sea was destroyed by the same Roman legion that had already destroyed Masada.

The ritual bath was used for spiritual purification, for the personal use of the royal family. The bath is the largest of its kind ever found in Jordan. It recalls the recently discovered and uniquely designated ritual bath in Qumran on the Israeli side of the Dead Sea.


The size of the palace is revealed

In the last 2000 years sand, dust and stone had covered the bath. Originally it had been equipped with a

stone ceiling. The roof had been destroyed 71 years after Christ when the Tenth Roman Legion under Lucilius Bassus attacked the desert fortress.

The archaeologists also discovered collapsed walls, four Roman ballistic projectiles and two pillars destroyed. Also brought to light was a 9.2 meter high wall. For the first time after these two millennia, the true grandeur of Herodes’ Desert Palace becomes visible.

Also found were 18-meter-deep underground cisterns, from which the gardens and baths were fed in Roman style.


A fortress in the former Judea
But even if Herod is known as a great builder of antiquity, this palace does not come from its catalog of arrangements. It was King Alexander Jannaeus who built it 90 years before Christ. Herodes only renovated the site and put it back into operation.Machaereus belonged to the fortification of the former Judea. After Jerusalem, it was the best secured facility. Those who wanted to attack Jerusalem from the East first had to overcome Machaereus. But it was far more than a military base. Herodes built a courtyard with Roman baths, dining sofas for dainty meals, a royal garden and much more.

Where Salome danced
The archaeologists found two ancient, 3.8-meter-high columns in the courtyard, where Salome is said to have danced for Herod. This story can be found in two Gospels, in Matthew 14, verses 1 through 11, and Mark 6, 17 through 28.Here is a short summary: Shortly before the Passover celebration in year 32, Herod Antipas (Herod’s son) celebrated his birthday with a gala. He asked his stepdaughter Salome to dance in front of those present. Herod was so fond of her performance that he promised to fulfill her wish, even if it was half of his kingdom. Salome, however, was persuaded by her mother to make a bad claim: she demanded the head of the imprisoned John.
Date: 22.06.2017
Author: Daniel Gerber
Source: Livenet / Scofield Institute