05-10-2007 08:49

After decades of searching, archaeologists in Jerusalem have announced the discovery of the grave and tomb of Herod the Great, the Roman empire's "king of the Jews". Herod was the legendary builder of ancient Jerusalem.

Academics at Hebrew University said at a news conference on Tuesday that the discovery was made at Herodium, where Herod's hilltop fortress palace once stood about 12 kilometers from the holy city he had rebuilt.

Archaeologists said they realized they were close to the tomb when they found pieces of an ornate sarcophagus.

Israeli professor Ehud Netzer said, "This is, I can say, a monumental sarcophagus. There is only one or two of its kind found so far. It's not every rich Jew or citizen of this time could afford himself. It's really a royal one."

Earlier digs had focused on other parts of Herodium, including a "tomb estate", remnants of two buildings and a large ritual bath, that originally had been chosen as a burial site.

Netzer and his team concluded the tomb they unearthed, estimated to have been about 2.5 meters long, was Herod's because of its lavish design. No bones were found.

Yaacov Kalman, the field manager for the excavation said that Herod's tomb had been damaged on purpose, and explained the historical importance of Herod.

The Roman senate appointed Herod "king of the Jews" in approximately 40 B-C. Herod was the last king of Judea, and lived in a critical time during which Christianity came into being.


Editor:Liu Fang