The mosaic floor pictured here is from the private bathhouse in the Western Palace. The multicolored geometric designs are typical of Herod’s construction. Some scholars think he chose not to use figures of animals, people, or gods, out of respect for his subjects, who believed that these would violate their commandment against making images. Made of many tiny stones (called tessarae) of different mineral types, mosaic became a significant skill of the Jewish people during and after Herod’s time. The structures in the side corners were built over the mosaic by the Jewish rebels during the First Jewish Revolt. Since these rebels were fighting for life itself, they were not concerned about Herod’s luxury.


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