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Excavating Machaerus: The Dead Sea Palace of Herod Antipas, Where John the Baptist was Beheaded

Győző Vörös - Hungarian Academy of Arts will present the Iain Browning Memorial Lecture

Reconstructed view of Herod's Palace at Machaerus. Image courtesy of Gyozo Voros and Jane Taylor

(Image courtesy of Gyozo Voros and Jane Taylor)

The Herodian fortified palace of Machaerus, overlooking the Dead Sea in Transjordan, is the historical place where, according to Flavius Josephus (AJ XVIII 5, 2), one of the holiest men of his era (known to Jews as Yokhanan the Baptizer; to Christians as Saint John the Baptist,  and to Muslims as the Prophet Yahyaibn Zakariyya), was confined and executed by the Tetrarch Herod Antipas. The site of Machaerus was rediscovered by the German explorer, Ulrich Jasper Seetzen in 1807, and more extensive remains were identified by the French Domenican Father Felix-Marie Abel in 1909. Since then, the site has been excavated several times, first in the 1960’s by E Jerry Vardaman, and then in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s by Virgilio Canio Corbo and Michele Piccirillo, both of the Fansciscan Biblical School in Jerusalem. Following Father Piccirillo’s unexpected death in 2008,  the Hungarian Academy of Arts has been conducting archaeological excavations and architectural surveys in the ancient hilltop royal castle and city of Machaerus, since 2009. The results have been published in the first of two magnificent volumes.

 

In this lecture, Dr. Győző Vörös will  place the archaeological site of Machaerus in its New Testament context, in order to elucidate the blurred scene of a biblical site, and reconstruct it as clearly as possible in the light of up-to-date historical, archaeological and architectural research.

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