Asaf Ben-Haim

asaf ben haim

M.A. thesis topic: Architectural Decoration at Herodium

Advisor: Dr. Orit Peleg-Barkat

My M.A. thesis focuses on the architectural decoration found at Herodium, the first century BCE palace of king Herod and on the sources of cultural influence, which can be inferred from the analysis and the context of the architectural elements at the site. At the focal point of my research stands the architectural decorative assemblage which was revealed in the mountain palace-fortress. Those items, the vast majority of which has never been scientifically analysed, are presented in detail and several aspects are examined, such as the stone types and the carving techniques, typology and their archaeological and architectural context. My methodology includes an on-site 3D-scanning and following computational analyses, together with more traditional research methods. The long-run excavation project at Herodium has identified several construction phases at the site, which can be aligned in a relative stratigraphy. Thus, examining the architectural items in their archaeological context helps us trace stylistic changes in the decoration that stretches across a chronological scale, and to identify accordingly trends of progress and development in Herod’s building program. Additionally, the project seeks to suggest a reconstruction for some of the architectural units and their decoration at the site. This reconstruction will help in understanding the architectural characteristics of Herodium in particular and King Herod’s architecture in general. Equipped with such knowledge, many unsolved questions that the sheer architectural plan cannot answer, might be addressed, such as: which architectural units had the most elaborate decoration? How did the upper parts of the towers look like? etc.