Joint Middle East Department/Palestine Exploration Fund lecture series
The excavations of Machaerus, where John the Baptist was imprisoned and executed

Thursday 2 October 2014,

Free, booking essential

Phone +44 (0)20 7323 8181
Ticket Desk in Great Court

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In this lecture, Győző Vörös, Hungarian Academy of Arts, will place the archaeological site of Machaerus in its New Testament context, in order to elucidate the blurred scene of a biblical site, and reconstruct it as clearly as possible in the light of up-to-date historical, archaeological and architectural research.

The Herodian fortified palace of Machaerus, overlooking the Dead Sea in Transjordan, is the historical place where, according to Flavius Josephus, one of the holiest men of his era – known to Jews as Yokhanan the Baptizer, to Christians as John the Baptist, and to Muslims as the Prophet Yahyaibn Zakariyya – was confined and executed by Herod Antipas.

The site was rediscovered by Ulrich Jasper Seetzen in 1807, and more extensive remains were identified by Father Felix-Marie Abel in 1909. Since then, the site has been excavated several times, first in the 1960s by E Jerry Vardaman, and then in the 1970s, 80s and 90s by Virgilio Canio Corbo and Michele Piccirillo. Following Father Piccirillo’s death in 2008, the Hungarian Academy of Arts has conducted archaeological excavations and architectural surveys in the ancient hilltop royal castle and city.

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A reconstruction of the palace–fortress of Machaerus. Courtesy of Jane Taylor and Győző Vörös.