The Ships from Herodium

By Yaacov Kahanov, Deborah Cvikel, Silvia Rozenberg, Yakov Kalman, Rachel Chachy & Roi Porat, published August 2015


Ships are depicted in two nautical scenes in the unique wall paintings discovered in the Royal Room next to the private small theatre of Herod the Great at Herodium near Jerusalem. The walls of the Royal Room were finely adorned with wall paintings and stucco decorations, dated to about 20–15 BC. The first scene, on a large fragment, is of sailing warships, with lively depictions of sails, wind, running rigging and a view of square sails from the front. The second painting, restored from hundreds of fragments, depicts a Nilotic scene in which a boat with mast and furled sail is shown making way under oars. An Egyptian context for the paintings is suggested, which may support a historical link to the battle of Actium, possibly commemorating it on the occasion of the visit of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa to Jerusalem in 15 BC.

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Filed under: Antiquity | Other (location)
Subjects include: Art & Music

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