King Herod Artifacts Unearthed

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a 2,000-year-old clay wine jug inscribed with the name of King Herod, along with some of the first evidence of daily life at the Masada fortress during Herod's time.

The Latin inscription says either "Herod, King of Judea" or "Herod, King of the Jews," said archaeologist Ehud Netzer of Hebrew University.

Netzer said today it was the first time the full title of Herod, king of Judea from 37 B.C. until his death in 4 B.C., had been found in an inscription.

The jug, which dates from about 19 B.C., was found in an ancient garbage dump near the synagogue at Masada, Netzer said.

Archaeologists also discovered food remains from Masada dwellers in Herod's time, including nuts, eggshells, dates and olive pits, and pieces of cloth and basketware.

Masada, a citadel built by Herod atop an isolated cliff on the edge of the Judean Desert and the Dead Sea Valley, was the last outpost of the zealots during the Jewish revolt against Rome that began in A.D. 66. After Roman battering rams breached the fortress' gates, hundreds of Jews committed suicide rather than fall prisoner.

Netzer said most of the artifacts found previously were from the period when the zealots lived at Masada. The new artifacts give archaeologists a glimpse of life during the time of Herod.

Copyright 1996 The Associated Press