BAR 37:06, Nov/Dec 2011
Hercules: Trendy Israelite Bathhouse Décor
The heroic son of Zeus has recently turned up in yet another ancient bathhouse in Israel. This time a 1.5-foot-tall, second-century C.E. marble Hercules statue was uncovered (literally) in an Israel Antiquities Authority excavation at Horvat Tarbenet in the Jezreel Valley. The detailed musculature of the three-dimensional nude sculpture is unusually well preserved. The figure leans to his left, resting on a club, over which is draped the furry hide of the Nemean lion. According to excavation director Walid Atrash, the statue probably stood on a base in a niche as part of the pool decoration in the bathhouse.