The Great Pool

The Great Pool in Lower Herodium



A massive 3m. deep pool stands at the center of lower Herodium; 70 m. long by 45 m. wide, it has a capacity of 10,000 cubic meters. A central component of the palace gardens, it was used for swimming and boating, and acted as a reservoir for irrigating the adjacent gardens. At its center are the remains of a circular structure; it can be reconstructed as a tholos (a circular building surrounded by columns) which would have been accessed by row-boats. The primary water source for the pool and the whole site was the aqueduct from “Solomon’s Pools”, south of Bethlehem.
Around the pool were decorative gardens surrounded by impressive courtyards with collonades topped by Ionic capitals. The courtyard walls were decorated with stucco paintings (molded plaster), while the floors stood about a meter above the garden level, to prevent flooding by rainwater, and also providing a more impressive view of the gardens. Swimming pools are known from other Herodian sites such as Jericho, Masada and Caesarea, proof of a culture common among the local elite.
Splendid halls and rooms with wall-paintings were built on the east and west sides of the pool complex. The eastern hall is almost completely destroyed, but its subterranean cellar is intact, while the western hall is divided into secondary halls, with the central one an octagon exactly facing the tholos at the pool’s center; it may have served as a throne-room, used for special events.


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  • Netzer E., 1981.Greater Herodium, Qedem 13, Jerusalem.