Anger That a Herod Show Uses West Bank Objects

tags: NYT, Jerusalem, Herod, West Bank, Second Temple



JERUSALEM — In one room sits a sarcophagus of reddish-pink limestone believed to have held the body of King Herod, painstakingly reconstructed after having been smashed to bits centuries ago. In another, there are frescoes from Herod’s elaborate underground palace, pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle. Throughout, elaborate animated videos show the king’s audacious construction — atop the desert fortress Masada; at his burial place, Herodium; and his most famous work, the Second Temple of Jerusalem.

The Israel Museum on Tuesday opened its most ambitious archaeological exhibition and the world’s first devoted to Herod, the lionized and demonized Rome-appointed king of Judea, who reigned from 37 to 4 B.C.E. and is among the most seminal and contentious figures in Jewish history. But the exhibition, which the museum director described as a “massive enterprise” that involved sifting through 30 tons of material from Herodium and reconstructing 250 artifacts, has also brought its own bit of controversy.

The Palestinian Authority says the exhibition is a violation of international law because much of its material was taken from near Bethlehem and Jericho, both in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. An Israeli group of archaeologists and activists complains that the museum, however unwittingly, is helping the Jewish settlement movement advance its contention that the West Bank should be part of Israel and not a Palestinian state....



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