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ARCHEOLOGY

Archaeologists uncover evidence of New Testament narrative

Dig reveals possible floor where Salome danced for Herod, according to archaeologists

Machaerus excavation site on the eastern side of the Dead Sea (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The journal Live Science reported last week that archaeologists working in the Dead Sea area south of Jerusalem believe they’ve determined the location of the floor in the room where Salome, daughter of Herodias, danced for King Herod Antipus and his guests.

It was after this infamous dance that Herod promised Salome anything she asked for and, at the urging of her mother, she requested the head of John the Baptist.

This story, which is related in Matthew 16 and Mark 14, was also mentioned (although not in great detail) by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who says that John was executed at Machaerus, a fort near the Dead Sea in modern-day Jordan.

Now, Gyozo Voros, director of a project called Machaerus Excavations and Surveys at the Dead Sea, has published a book entitled "Holy Land Archaeology on Either Side: Archaeological Essays in Honour of Eugenio Alliata," published by Fondazione Terra Santa. In the book, Voros describes a courtyard, unearthed in 1980, where he has recently discovered a niche which would have housed a throne of the type on which a potentate such as Herod would have sat while entertaining guests. For this reason, he believes the floor to be the actual location where Salome danced for Herod Antipus and his guests.

Although Live Science’s article also included differing opinions about Voros’s statements from experts in the field of Biblical archaeology, his book has already generated a fair amount of chatter in professional circles in Israel regarding the story of John the Baptist and, more generally, the Second Temple Period and the New Testament narrative.

The general public in Israel has also seen an increased interest in these topics in recent years, which has been noted and remarked upon by officials at the Bible Lands Museum and the Tourism Ministry, which relies on Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land for a large percentage of visitors to the country.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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