An unusual plan to rebuild the tomb of Herod the Great at the Herodium site, southeast of Jerusalem, has spurred opposition on the part of top archeologists.
The plan, which is being promoted by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the Gush Etzion Regional Council, includes building a lavish mausoleum in its original size out of light plastic material, and turning it into a visitor’s center. The plan is the first of its kind in the realm of Israeli archeological digs, as most sites consist of either miniaturized or renovated historical sites that use the original materials found at the site.
Herod’s grave was discovered approximately five years ago by the archeologist Ehud Netzer, who died two years ago as a result of a fall at the site. Before his death, Netzer was able to recreate the tomb, which reached a height of 25 meters and prided itself on having a cone-shaped roof. A model of the structure, which reached a height of 4 meters, was built at a cost of NIS 50,000 and was placed at the site last week, “It’s crazy - Archeology is not Disneyland,” said one top archeologist who asked to remain anonymous, “you don’t take an archeological site and make a joke out of it.” Professor Haim Goldfus, the head of the archeology department at Ben Gurion University, added that “the Herodium is impressive on its own, and the new structure will only distract from the real thing. A public committee should be established to decide on such a move.”
Herod the Great ruled over the Judean Kingdom in the first century BC, and died in 4 AD. He was responsible for rebuilding the Second Temple, as well as building Caesarea and Masada.
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