Biblical Archaeology Review 14:4, July/August 1988
Israel Underground

Jewish Rebels Dig Strategic Tunnel System

By Ehud Netzer

At Herodium, the isolated mountain palace-fortress complex originally created by Herod the Great in the midst of the Judean desert,1 an underground tunnel system dating to the Bar-Kokhba revolt, the Second Jewish Revolt against Rome (132–135 A.D.), has recently been discovered. Unlike the low, narrow underground burrows Amos Kloner describes in “Name of Ancient Israel’s Last President Discovered on Lead Weight,” that protected the rebels’ hiding places during the revolt, the tunnels at Herodium are roomy passages averaging 4.5 feet wide and 6 feet high. Through this network, men could walk or run erect, as lookouts on the fortress towers directed the transfer of men and supplies to meet a Roman assault.

An understanding of the underground tunnels at Herodium and how they worked requires us first to understand the artificial mountain constructed by Herod the Great about 150 years before Bar-Kokhba’s rebels dug their tunnels at Herodium.

Join the BAS Library!

Already a library member? Log in here.

Institution user? Log in with your IP address.