In the Bible, “cedar” is mention 76 times. This strong, fragrant, long-lasting, prized wood came from the trees that were grown in Lebanon. Cedar was used for paneling, columns and beams in palace, temples and other elite buildings in the ancient world. They are slow-growing trees and can reach heights of 120 ft. [35 m.] and circumferences of 36 ft. [10 m.].
Cedar of Lebanon Near Bchareé (Lebanon)
Cedars were used by Solomon in constructing buildings in Jerusalem and indeed, they were used all over the Near East for the construction of large buildings from ancient to relatively recent times.). For example it is said of Solomon that he “… made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar as plentiful as sycamore-fig trees in the Shephelah” (1 Kings 10:27).
Grove of Cedar Trees Near Bchareé Lebanon
Today there are only several thousand Cedars of Lebanon in existence. The cedars pictured here are from a grove in the area of the Lebanese village of Bchareé that is located at an elevation of 6,500 ft. [2,000 m.] in Mount Lebanon.
Twenty thousand hectares [49,000 acres) of the area has been declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
To view additional images of cedars and a map locating Bchareé Click Here. Images courtesy of Mark Connally.
Besides the naval and nature paintings (secco—on dry plaster) and the architectural fragments of the mausoleum that I mentioned in my previous posts, the so called sarcophagus of Herod that is also on display in the Israel Museum.
The Sarcophagus of Herod? Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download.
The display of the reconstructed main sarcophagus found at “Herod’s Tomb” at the Herodium. It appears to be made out of local limestone. Please notice that it although it is nicely carved with a rosette pattern on the end along with a floral pattern under the gable of the lid it is really not all the elaborate.
Compare for example the following sarcophagus.
View of the side of the sarcophagus that depicts Abdalonymos, the person buried in the sarcophagus, fighting the Persians along with Alexander the Great! From the 4th Century B.C.! Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download.[Alexander the Great is the figure on horseback on the far left—Abdalonymos is on horseback in the center]
This sarcophagus was found at Sidon (just north of Israel) in 1887. It dates to the last quarter of the 4th century B.C.
—the time when Alexander fought the Persians at the Battle of Issus in 333 B.C. Abdalonymos was the King of Sidon at the time. It was originally painted, and some of the pigments still remain! The shape of the sarcophagus seems to be representing a temple. Note the roof tiles, the “downspouts,” and the intricate carved detail!
This sarcophagus was crafted roughly 300 years before the death of Herod—so we know that this type of technology and craftsmanship was known and available to those living in the region of Herod—including Herod himself. Would Herod really have been satisfied with such a “plain” sarcophagus as that found at the Herodium when the technology and craftsmanship for something much more elaborate was available?
Again, did Ehud Netzer discover the “real tomb” of King Herod? There are significant researchers who think not. Although Netzer found a significant mausoleum and fragments of sarcophagi, neither the size of the mausoleum nor the sarcophagi are overwhelmingly impressive—that is fitting for a king of Herod’s ego/stature (see conveniently the summary of Shanks below—and more on the sarcophagus in the next post).
Shanks, Hershel. “Was Herod’s Tomb Really Found?” Biblical Archaeology Review 40 (2014): 40–48.
Chuck Jones at the Ancient World on Line has drawn our attention to the fact that a marvelous digital map of the Grec0-Roman World, with roads!, is now on line.
This map by Pelagios is based upon the Barrington Atlas.