A museum employee stands near ancient columns as he prepares the exhibition “Herod the Great: The King’s Final Journey” for display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem January 15, 2013. — Reuters pic
JERUSALEM, Feb 13 — The first major museum exhibition on the divisive biblical figure of Herod the Great has provoked a modern-day row between Israel and the Palestinians over who has the right to dig up his artefacts.
The Israel Museum in Jerusalem yesterday unveiled a display dedicated to Herod — branded a baby-killer in the Christian tradition but remembered by many in Israel for rebuilding the Jewish Temple two millennia ago.
Palestinians have complained many of the exhibits were taken from the occupied West Bank, land Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and which Palestinians seek as part of a future state.
The show includes busts and statues of figures from the period when the Romans occupied the Holy Land and appointed Herod the monarch of Judea.
The highlight is a reconstruction of part of Herod’s mausoleum housing what experts believe is his sarcophagus.