ANCIENT SITES - Herodium or Herodion is the highest hill in the Judean desert. It is said to be an acropolis, built by king Herod around 20 BCE to commemorate his victory over the Parthians. Herodium is a spectacular site and an important tourist attraction in the region.
The hill is 2,487 (758 meters) high and is conical in shape. It served as a fortress for king Herod’s luxurious palace, that was built inside.
Excavation of the palace began in 1972. It was a luxurious place at the time, with many special facilities like a theater and bath houses. In 2007, archeologists announced that they had found king Herod’s tomb inside the hill. His sarcophagus is largely destroyed, supposedly by rebels who later occupied Herodium and had no love for the ancient king.
Deeper into the hill, some even more fascinating structures have been found. There are a number of tunnels in Herodium that lead to what appear to be huge water storage tanks deep down inside. Archeologists think that king Herod not only built the palace, but that he actually constructed the hill itself. This must have been a huge effort that required advanced knowledge of building techniques.
It could make sense that the king wanted to secure water supply in times of war. On the other hand, if we look at aerial photos of Herodium, other things come to mind. It simply looks like an advanced piece of technology. We can’t help but wonder if the storage tanks were filled with water or with something else. What if they were used – perhaps in times long before king Herod arrived at the scene – to store some kind of fuel?
The hill could just as well be a launching station as a fortress. Maybe it is much older than 20 BCE and was built by ancient people or ancient visitors that had the technology to do this. Who needed such constructions, not to defend themselves but to land, fuel and service their spacecraft on?
Let’s hope that further research at the site will reveal more of the history of Herodium in the near future.