Tuesday, May 08, 2007

King Herod’s Tomb Discovered

May 08 2007

The grave and tomb of King Herod, who ruled Judea for the Roman Empire from circa 37 BCE has been discovered by Prof. Ehud Netzer of the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology, who is a leading expert on King Herod. Prof. Netzer has conducted archaeological digs at Herodion since 1972 in an attempt to locate the grave and tomb.

It has been widely believed among archaeologists that Herod was in fact buried at Herodion, based on the writings of the contemporary Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, but prior excavations at the site failed to locate the grave. Netzer's dig focused on a previously unexcavated site between the upper part of Herodion and the site's two palaces. Herodion, a fortified palace built by Herod 12 kilometers south of Jerusalem, was destroyed by the Romans in 71 CE.

Herod, also known as Herod the Great, and whose father and grandfather converted to Judaism, became Roman governor of the Galilee at the age of 25 and was appointed ‘King of the Jews’ by the Roman senate in c.40 BCE. He reigned for some 34 years. Herod is credited with expanding the Second Temple and building monumental construction projects, including Caesarea, Massada. He died in 4 BCE in Jericho.

Herod decided to construct his tomb at Herodion because the site played a role in two dramatic events in his life. In 43 BCE, Herod was forced to flee Jerusalem with his family after the Parthians, his enemies, had besieged the city. His mother's chariot flipped over near Herodion, and Herod became hysterical until he realized she was only lightly wounded. The Parthians caught up to Herod and his entourage, and in the ensuing battle, Herod’s party emerged victorious.

Herodion, one of the largest royal complexes in the Roman Empire, comprised a residential palace, a sanctuary, an administrative center and a mausoleum. Herod first erected an artificial cone-shaped hill that was visible from Jerusalem. On this ‘hilltop’, he constructed a fortified palace surrounded by watchtowers. At the foot of the hill, he built an additional palace – known as ‘Lower Herodion’ – which included many buildings, pools, stables and storage areas. The site’s elaborate gardens were irrigated with water brought in from Solomon's Pools.

Following Herod's death, his son Archilaus continued to reside in Herodion. After Judea became a Roman province, the site served as a center for Roman prefects. At the outbreak of the Great Revolt, Herodion was seized by the Jewish rebels, but was handed over without resistance to the Romans following the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE. Fifty years later during the Bar Kochva revolt, Herodion was also used by the rebels but was subsequently abandoned. In the 5th century CE, the site was settled by Byzantine monks, and became a leper colony before being finally abandoned in the 7th century CE.

The first archaeological dig at Herodion, between the years 1956 and 1962 revealed most of the currently-known remains. In 1972, Israeli archaeologists began excavations at the site.

Source: Hebrew University
Photo Credits: Tuttle Enterprises


In Other Academic News:

Petition to Halt CJS Upgrade to University Status Withdrawn after Israeli Supreme Court Decision

The Israeli Supreme Court has unanimously rejected the appeal of a group of 20 politically-motivated Israeli university lecturers who sought to halt the transition of the College of Judea & Samaria, Israel's largest public college with 9,500 students and 21 academic departments, to university status.

Pursuant to this decision, the Supreme Court recommended the withdrawal of the petition submitted by the lecturers who demanded that the Professional Committee established by the Council of Higher Education (Judea & Samaria) halt its review of the school's academic eligibility and readiness to be upgraded to a university.

The group's petition was originally filed in August 2006. The lecturers requested a temporary injunction to halt the Committee's work, which, at the time, was denied by the Supreme Court. Following yesterday's decision, the group formally withdrew its petition.

The decision by the Supreme Court enables the College of Judea & Samaria to continue the process of academic accreditation towards becoming a university center, as part of an interim status, and later a full university.

"We're very pleased this attempt to undermine our transition into Israel's next university has been rejected by the Supreme Court as unjustified. The College educates thousands of young Israelis annually, is heavily involved in advanced research and should receive the recognition and support it deserves", said Yigal Cohen-Orgad, Chairman of the College's Executive Committee.


Speed Cameras Could Curb U.S. Road Deaths

A study by Israeli and American researchers, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, says that reducing speed limits and extensive use of speed camera networks could significantly reduce the high number of road deaths in the United States.

The study was headed by Prof. Elihu Richter of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and was jointly undertaken by a team from the Injury Prevention Center at the Braun Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Public Health and Community Medicine; the Department of Surgery & Trauma Center, Hadassah University Hospital; and the University of Illinois School of Public Health.

The study recommends a large-scale test of speed camera networks in the US, where small increases in travel speeds resulted in a sustained death toll of more than 42,000 road deaths per year in the 1990s.

Speed cameras for detecting and deterring high travel speeds on the roads have barely been used in the US. But in other countries, notably the UK, Australia and France, they have had a major impact on reducing road death tolls.

In the UK, for example, the installation of speed cameras, roundabouts (traffic circles) and other measures in the 1990s reduced the number of road deaths by 33.9%. The reduction of road deaths was similarly high in other countries where speed limits were reduced. Sweden experienced a 21% drop in fatal crashes, while the figure in Denmark dropped by 24%. In Victoria Australia, road death tolls have fallen by some 50% in the last 15 years. In Queensland, Australia, 2,500 speed cameras were introduced between 1997 and 2001, resulting in a 31% drop in fatal crashes.

The researchers found that following the introduction of speed cameras in the UK, the fall in case fatality – the percentage of injured who are killed -- accounted entirely for the fall in road deaths. The authors ruled out an array of other suspect causes for the UK-US difference, including SUV’s, trends in seat belt use, emergency care, and in vehicle-miles traveled.

In 1995, the US abolished the national maximum speed limit on interstate highways, and soon after 32 states increased their speed limits. The result was that road deaths increased by 15% on interstate highways, resulting in more than 450-500 more deaths each year). By 2003, most states had increased the rural interstate high speed limit to 75 mph – resulting in a 38% annual increase in road deaths (780 more deaths).

In Israel, road deaths nationwide increased by 15% after speed limits were raised from 90 to 100 kph on three inter-urban highways in 1993, and the effect has persisted.

The study says that detection and deterrence of increased speeds would substantially reduce the toll from drinking under influence of alcohol in the US (some 17,000 deaths per year), which itself leads to driving at higher speeds.

If the United States would have implemented the speed control policies of the UK during the 1990s, and had it not raised speed limits, the researchers say there would have been, at the minimum, some 6,500 to 10,000 (16-25%) fewer deaths per year – tolls three to five times that of the 2001 Twin Towers terror attack.


Fingerprints Revealed by Nanotechnology

Hidden fingerprints can now be revealed quickly and reliably thanks to two developments in nanotechnology. The current way of revealing hidden prints involves coating the marked surface with a watery suspension of gold nanoparticles, stabilized by citrate ions. Under acid conditions, the gold particles stick to the positively-charged molecules in the fingerprint. The print is then developed with a solution of silver ions, which undergo a chemical reaction to leave an outline of dark silver metal along the characteristic ridges of the fingerprint. But the gold solution is quite unstable, and the technique is difficult to reproduce from one test to another.

Now, a research team at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, including Prof. Daniel Mandler and Prof. Uri Banin of the Harvey M. Krueger Family Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, and Matias Sametband, Prof. Joseph Almog, and Itzhak Shweky of the Institute of Chemistry, have replaced the traditional gold solution with a more stable equivalent. Their gold nanoparticles bristle with long hydrocarbon chains and are suspended in petrol ether. They stick to the fingerprint residues through hydrophobic interactions, and can be developed with silver as before, producing high quality prints after just three minutes immersion time.

The team has also developed a fingerprinting method for non-porous surfaces, using a petrol ether suspension of cadmium selenide/zinc sulphide nanoparticles stabilized by long chain amines. As with the team's gold solution, the nanoparticles adhere to the fingerprint by hydrophobic interactions. But in this case, as the nanoparticles fluoresce under UV light to reveal clear fluorescent prints, no additional developing stage is needed.


New Master's Degree in Psychology Receives Council Approval

The College of Judea & Samaria is pleased to announce that the school has received official approval from Israel's Council of Higher Education (CHE) to begin registering students for a Master's degree in Psychology. This will mark the second Master's degree to be offered to students by the College (the first degree, begun in October 2005, was in Social Work).

The new graduate program, to be overseen by Prof. Noach Milgram of the College's Department of Behavioral Sciences and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, will concentrate on two important and growing fields - Organizational Psychology and Rehabilitative Psychology.

Organizational Psychologists work in a wide variety of organizations (e.g., local & federal government, industry, education), providing screening and selection of appropriate candidates for increasingly complex and specialized positions, consultation to facilitate the proper functioning of organizations at all levels and follow-up of the consequences of organizational decisions.

In addition, Organizational Psychologists function as vocational counselors to young people by assessing their interests, abilities & aptitudes for higher education, training, and eventual entry into the workplace.

Rehabilitation Psychologists offer assessment, counseling, consultation and referral services to many groups, such as delinquent youth, drug addicts, criminals in prisons, adult retarded persons, psychiatrically disturbed people and the elderly. Professional effort to enable members of these groups to reach the highest level of competent function is of enormous benefit to rehabilitated people, their family, community and society as a whole.

"The new program will train students in two professional fields in which the current number of professional workers does not begin to meet the burgeoning needs of Israeli society," said Prof. Milgram.

For more details, please contact:
Prof. Noach Milgram
Dean, School of Graduate Studies
College of Judea & Samaria, Ariel, Israel
Tel: 972-3-906-6153