Modern politics overshadows Israel’s historic Herod exhibit

tags: Israel, Palestine, archaeology, Herod, BBC



He's best known as a great tyrant. King Herod is said to have killed his wife and sons as well as all the baby boys of Bethlehem.

But the first major exhibition on the Biblical ruler at the Israel Museum sets out to prove that he also had positive qualities that make him more deserving of the title "Herod the Great".

"We tried to show that he was not only the cruel person described by [the Jewish historian] Josephus and the New Testament but he was also a ruler who managed to keep this country in peace for 33 years," says curator Silvia Rosenburg.

"It was probably very difficult being a local ruler caught between the Roman Empire and the different exigencies of Judaism, but he did it very well. In his time there was prosperity and work for everyone."

A main reason why there was mass employment was because of the ambitious building projects ordered by Herod when he ruled between 37 and 4 BC...

...Palestinian officials say they will make a formal complaint to the museum for removing relics from the West Bank, which Palestinians want as part of a future state.

"This is against international law," says Rula Maayah, the Palestinian tourism and antiquities minister.

"Herodium is on land that was occupied in 1967. This is Palestinian land and the Israelis have no right for excavations there. They don't have any right or authority there in Herodium and they don't have the right to take any antiquities."

Ms Maayah says Israeli authorities did not consult her department about the exhibition even though it involves joint cultural heritage. "Actually we only heard about it from the media," she says...




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