Herod’s Palace-Fortress at Machaerus

Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening,
and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying,
“John has been raised from the dead”;
others were saying, “Elijah has appeared”;
still others, “One of the ancient prophets has arisen.”
But Herod said, “John I beheaded.
Who then is this about whom I hear such things?”
And he kept trying to see him.

Luke 9:7-9

According to the Jewish historian Josephus, the palace at Machaerus was the site at which John the Baptist was beheaded by Herod Antipas in 32 AD. It was built by Herod the Great, whose son was Herod Antipas the Tetrarch who ruled from 4 BC to 29 AD.



The palace was constructed atop a great promontory overlooking the Dead Sea and surrounded by deep ravines and a fortress wall, 100 meters long and 60 meters wide with three corner towers, each sixty cubits (90 ft) high.



Within the fortress, excavators have revealed the Herodian palace, which includes a large courtyard and an elaborate bath, with fragments of the mosaic floors still remaining. An aqueduct and cisterns provided water for the inhabitants.


The fortress was destroyed down to the foundations by the Romans in 72 AD after Jewish rebels occupied it. Twentieth century archaeologists have done a partial reconstruction of it and re-erected several columns.