Herod’s Contribution to Judean Architecture

Herod, the client of Rome who ruled Judea from 37 to 4 BCE, was both a brutal king and an enthusiastic builder, and his ambitious architectural projects can be found throughout Israel. Orit Peleg-Barkat explains his impact on Judean architecture:

While the Hasmoneans, Herod’s predecessors, made only restricted use of classical architectural decoration in their palaces at Jericho and elsewhere, Herod made much more extensive use of it. . . . The new forms of decorations that Herod introduced into the local architecture were mostly of particularly Roman origin, such as the stucco ceilings in the “coffer-style” and the console cornice. Other changes, such as Herod’s increased reliance on the Corinthian rather than the Doric order preferred by the Hasmoneans—probably reflecting [the contemporary Roman emperor] Augustus’ choice of the Corinthian order as representing the new Roman taste—also manifest strong Roman influence. . . .

However, the Roman influence on Herod’s architecture went deeper than what was sufficient to satisfy his Roman patrons. Building techniques, such as the use of underwater concrete for the harbor of Caesarea, . . . were introduced by Herod into local architecture, providing some of the first examples of such Roman traits in the East. This makes Herod a trendsetter. . . .

Herod’s decorative program had an impact . . . on the tastes of many of his subjects; the architectural decoration in cities such as Jerusalem demonstrates how the innovations introduced by Herod to the local architecture were embraced by the elites of those cities.

Read more at ASOR

More about: Ancient Israel, Ancient Rome, Architecture, Herod, History & Ideas, Jewish architecture

When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount