Friday, October 29, 2010

Herod's tomb archaeologist dies

Ehud Netzer
 Netzer, best known for discovering the tomb of King Herod, died on Thursday after suffering a fall at the site this week. -- PHOTO: AP

JERUSALEM - THE Israeli archaeologist who unearthed the tomb of the biblical king Herod died from injuries sustained during a fall at the site of the dig, the Israeli antiquities authority said on Friday.

Ehud Netzer, 76, fell on Monday when a railing he was leaning on gave way at the Herodium archaeological site in the occupied West Bank where the grave of the first century BC king was found. He was taken to hospital where he succumbed to his injuries late on Thursday.

The Hebrew University professor discovered the tomb in 2007 after a three-decade search and has since excavated an elaborate mausoleum and three shattered sarcophagi believed to be those of Herod and two of his wives.

Herod is well-known among Israelis and Jews worldwide as the builder of the Second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, of which only the outer wall, Judaism's most important pilgrimage site, remains.

The Gospel of Matthew describes how the Roman-era king ordered the murder of all boys in the Bethlehem area under the age of two in an attempt to prevent the infant Jesus from usurping his position as king of the Jews.

Most historians doubt the veracity of the story but believe that Herod was responsible for other acts of brutality, including the killing of at least one of his 10 wives and two of his children. -- AFP

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