A plan to restore the original structure that held King Herod’s tomb at Herodion in the West Bank has been scrapped after it came under fire from archaeologists, tour guides and other experts.
The tomb of King Herod was located in 2007 by archaeologist Ehud Netzer, who found its remains on the slopes of the mountain fortress south of Jerusalem.
Netzer died three years later after being injured in a fall at the site. But before his death Netzer used the archaeological findings to create a model of how the magnificent three-story structure may have looked. He also suggested trying to rebuild the mausoleum at the site.
But once word of the plan got out and started to draw criticism, the Parks Authority and the Prime Minister’s Office, which had initiated the project, called a public hearing on the issue. It was held about a month ago, at Kibbutz Ramat Rahel, where the plan was subjected to a barrage of criticism. Prof. Amos Kloner, a former Jerusalem district archaeologist for the Israel Antiquities Authority, said the planned “lacked modesty.”
He noted that excavations at the site were still continuing and that assumptions about the structure, very little of which has been found, change constantly in accordance with new findings. It would thus be a mistake to rebuild a structure when experts have no firm idea of its appearance, Kloner said.
Prof. Joseph Patrich of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem said there was still disagreement about whether what Netzer discovered was actually Herod’s tomb. Tour guides, meanwhile, said they feared that such a huge restoration would dwarf the other archaeological findings at the site and would harm the landscape.
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