Herod, Master Builder

Herod built prolifically both inside his kingdom and beyond it. His construction projects merged architectural innovations from the West with local traditions, and reflected an original blend of aesthetic sensibility, practicality, and imagination. Many of his buildings were dramatically situated within the landscape, and quite a few uniquely integrated a variety of functions.

The king spared no efforts to bring water from distant sources and ensure the efficient collection of rainwater, making it possible to build swimming pools, bathh ouses, and spacious gardens in even the most arid of regions. But he also preferred using local building materials and only imported supplies in special cases, and many of his private palaces were, in fact, quite modest in scale.

Though Herod relied upon architects and engineers, there is no doubt that he was personally involved in each of his projects; and while the public buildings he erected were meant to meet the administrative, religious, and cultural needs of his subjects, they certainly afforded him great pride and satisfaction. Apparently, Herod's urge to build was based to a large extent upon his longing for glory and immortality.