Fit for a King: Architectural decor in Judaea and Herod as trendsetter

Orit Peleg-Barkat*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


This paper pays close attention to architectural decoration in King Herod's construction projects and offers a renewed perspective on Herod's use of monumental display to situate his own kingdom within the empire. His increased reliance on the Corinthian rather than the Doric order, for example, appears to reflect Augustus's choice of the Corinthian order as representing the new Roman taste. His introduction into local architecture of particularly Roman architectural elements, such as the stucco ceilings of the "coffer-style" and the console cornice, moreover, transformed the adornment of buildings throughout Judaea. The recently discovered mausoleum in Herodium identified by its excavators as Herod's tomb exemplifies how these new Roman trends were incorporated into the local Hellenistic architectural tradition. I suggest that Herod's decorative program influenced 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 upper-class citizens of those cities. In peripheral cities and smaller sites such as En-Gedi and Gamla, however, the architectural decoration maintains the local Hellenistic tradition. In these sites, the Doric order continues to be popular, and entablature elements are rare.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)141-161
Number of pages21
JournalBulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research
StatePublished - May 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 American Schools of Oriental Research.


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