Unearthing King Herod's Tomb

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Video: King Herod's Tomb

If graveyard etiquette exists, we were clearly in serious violation.

I had both feet planted on his tomb. I walked on top of his grave. We actually shot our piece to camera this way.

His stone coffin was only unearthed a few weeks ago, and I couldn’t believe they let us stand on top of it. The tourists were several feet away watching us. And there we stood on top of one of the most amazing discoveries in recent time ... King Herod’s Tomb.

Herod was dubbed “King of the Jews” and according to Christian tradition, he ordered the killing of all male babies in Bethlehem, Jesus’s birthplace, after hearing from a wise man that he’d lose his throne to a new “King of the Jews.”

The tomb's chief archeologist — Ehud Netzer, a professor at Hebrew University — is 70-years-old. He’s been searching for this grave for half his life and says this is just another step for better understanding Herod’s life.

We touched the tomb. (Emily Post … forgive us, for we clearly know not what we do). The pinkish Jerusalem limestone was only unearthed three weeks ago. The sides of the coffin were straight and chalky. At the base there were small grooved edges.

Researchers say there are two big giveaways that make this the Roman king’s likely coffin.

• First, the ornate floral artwork uncovered from the tomb is believed to be from Herod’s time. To me, they looked like the kind of flowers you’d see on a buttercream birthday cake.

• The second indication was the straight edges around the coffin. Researchers say this feature would have taken a great deal of time to build. That kind of detail for a coffin, I am told, is a true luxury that even rich folks back in the day couldn’t afford.

Lastly, archeologists have long believed Herod was buried at this location because it seems to resemble a summer palace. Stairs were also discovered at the site. Researchers say this was likely built for use as a funeral procession specifically for Herod. To further the theory that this is Herod's tomb, there are also no other bodies believed to be buried on this hilltop.

Much of the tomb is believed to have been desecrated by Jewish rebels revolting against the Romans after Herod’s death. So they aren’t too hopeful they’ll find much more. But Prof. Netzer says that doesn’t diminish the discovery’s importance.

The discovery still has to be authenticated, but Netzer is certain this is Herod’s tomb.

His team will spend the next few months continuing their excavation. They’re hoping to find an inscription or something with the king’s name on it. But even if they don’t unearth anything else, he’s certain they’ll have no problem confirming this was King Herod’s final resting spot.

Although the tomb was only partially excavated, it was still compelling. Maybe that’s because, as FOX News Cameraman Mal James put it,

“There’s an Indiana Jones inside each one of us.”

For more information on why archeologists think that this discovery is King Herod's Tomb, check out Reena's Web video. Have a question for Reena? E-mail her here!

I found your article on King Herod's tomb very interesting. And will you report any additional information that archeologists find? Keep up the good work." — Harold

Reena Ninan is FOX News Channel's new Middle East correspondent. Before coming to Jerusalem, Reena joined the NYC bureau of FNC as an on-air correspondent in March 2006. Click over to read her full bio.