Herodian Hangout

Digs & Discoveries September/October 2021

(Photo by Emil Aladjem/Israel Antiquities Authority)

A 2,000-year-old Roman basilica complex has been uncovered in Ashkelon, on Israel’s Mediterranean coast. The structure, which measures roughly 360 feet long and 130 feet wide, was a multipurpose public building where Ashkelon’s residents would have socialized, conducted business transactions, and even attended theater performances. It includes a colonnade with marble columns standing some 40 feet tall as well as a central hall and two side halls. The floors and walls of the building were also made of marble, which is thought to have been imported from what is now Turkey. The team, led by Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists Rachel Bar-Natan, Sa’ar Ganor, and Federico Kobrin, uncovered coins near the building’s foundations that date to the reign of Herod the Great (37–4 B.C.), who was renowned for his ambitious building projects. Some historical sources suggest that Herod’s family came from Ashkelon, explains Bar-Natan, suggesting the basilica may have been constructed during the rule of a king who had personal connections to the city.

SO21 Digs Theater and Captital
Theater (left) and marble column capital (right)(Photos by Yaniv Cohen/Nature and Parks Authority)
  • Artifacts September/October 2021

    Late Medieval Ring

    Read Article
    (© Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales)
  • Around the World September/October 2021


    Read Article
    (ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute)
  • Digs & Discoveries September/October 2021

    Viking Fantasy Island

    Read Article
    (Courtesy Flinders University)
  • Features September/October 2021

    Secret Rites of Samothrace

    Reimagining the experience of initiation into an ancient Greek mystery cult

    Read Article
    (© American Excavations Samothrace)