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Tomb - History

A tomb is an enclosed space for the repository of the remains of the dead. Traditionally tombs have been located in caves, underground, or in structures designed specifically for the purpose of containing the remains of deceased human beings and, often, their possessions, loved ones, or, as at the tomb known as `The Great Death Pit' at the city of Ur, one's servants. The Natufian Grave in Israel, which dates from c. 12,000 BCE, contained the remains of a man buried with his dog. Tombs have always been considered the homes of the dead and every tomb ever constructed was built with this concept in mind. The tomb is the final resting place of a dead person whose soul, however, would live on in another realm. Personal artifacts or pets were often interred with the deceased because it was thought they would be needed in the afterlife. The construction of a tomb would also reflect the status of the person buried there and the beliefs of a certain culture concerning the afterlife. Ancient cultures from Mesopotamia to Rome maintained that the dead lived on after life and ancient stories concerning ghosts (such as the one famously told by the Roman writer Pliny the Younger in c. 100 CE) have to do with the improper burial of the dead. Ancient inscriptions from cultures as diverse as Mesopotamia, China, Greece, and the Maya all cite the importance of a respectful burial and remembrance of the dead and the dire consequences of failing to do so.

Tombs in Ancient Egypt

The most elaborate tombs in ancient times were those built by the Egyptians for their kings, the pharaohs. Early on, the Egyptians built mastabas, tombs made of dried bricks which were then used to shore up shafts and chambers dug into the earth. In every mastaba there was a large room for ceremonies honoring the spirit of the deceased and an adjoining smaller room, the serdab, where a statue of the dead person would be placed so that the spirit could witness and enjoy the ceremonies. The mastaba continued as a tomb for the common people but for royalty it was replaced by the structure known as the pyramid. Commencing with the Step Pyramid at Saqqara, the royal pyramids would reach their height in splendor in the construction of the Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza (built 2551-2528 BCE). The royal pyramids were adorned with paintings depicting the life and accomplishments of the deceased king and filled with all those necessities the spirit would need in the afterlife in the Field of Reeds. Pharoahs were interred in the area known as The Valley of the Kings and their tombs were elaborate eternal homes which reflected their status as divine rulers.


Mesopotamian Tombs

In ancient Mesopotamia tombs resembled the mastaba generally but, as in Egypt, the tombs of royalty were more ornate. Archaeological excavations carried out in the 1920s CE by C. Leonard Wooley uncovered the Royal Tombs of Ur in which were found many exquisite works composed of gold, lapis lazuli and carnelian (most notably the diadem of Queen Puabi). In the one tomb, dubbed 'The Great Death Pit' by Wooley, the bodies of six guards and 68 ladies-of-the-court were found. It is thought these were the favored of the king and were chosen to accompany him to the afterlife. The Mesopotamians, whether south in the region of Sumer or north in Akkad, were so concerned with the proper burial of the dead that they often built tombs inside, or next to, their homes so they could continue to care for the deceased and prevent the problems which arose from hauntings (this same practice was observed by the Mayan culture which also maintained a deep-seated fear of ghosts). Personal possessions were always included in these tombs as well as gifts, even modest ones, which were to be offered by the deceased to the gods of the underworld upon arrival there. Kings, of course, were laid to rest with more elaborate presents for the gods as the grave goods excavated throughout Mesopotamia attest.

Tombs of the Maya & King Pakal

The tombs of the Mayan rulers were constructed in much the same way as those of the kings of other cultures in that they were opulent in both style and structure and filled with all the necessities one might require in the afterlife. The walls of the tomb of King K'inich Janaab Pakal of Palenque (603-683 CE) were adorned with images of Pakal's transition from the earthly life to the realm of the gods and he was buried in an elaborately carved sarcophagus reflecting the same theme. Though some have claimed the carvings depict Pakal riding a rocket and are, therefore, proof of ancient alien interaction with the Maya, this theory is not considered tenable by the scholarly community. The carving on the sarcophagus which appears to some to be a rocket is recognized by scholars as the Tree of Life which Pakal is ascending to paradise. King Pakal, like other rulers, was given a tomb worthy of his stature and accomplishments and is thought to have been constructed by his subjects who considered him worthy of that honor. The tomb of the first emperor of China, however, was begun before his death and was built by the conscripted labor of workers from every province in the country.


Chinese Tombs & the Mausoleum of Shi Huangti

The tomb of Shi Huangti in China contained over 8,000 terra cotta warriors, their weapons, chariots, and horses so that the emperor would have a standing army at his command in the afterlife. This tomb, which rises to a height of 141 feet (43 metres) was first discovered in 1974 CE in the city of Xi'an and has yet to be excavated because of the fear of the various traps Shi Huangti is said to have devised to protect the vast treasure he was buried with. Over 700,000 workers were conscripted to build the tomb which was supposed to symbolize the world over which Shi Huangti reigned and would continue to rule in the afterlife. Other tombs in China, not nearly so grand in size or scope, also reflect the belief that the deceased would continue to exist in some form in another realm and could continue to exert influence on the living, for good or ill, depending on how their remains had been respected and how their memory continued to be honored.

Tombs in Greece

In Greece, the tombs of the wealthy were closely linked, architecturally, to the modern mausoleum in that they were often ornately decorated stone buildings housing the reclining dead. As the Greeks believed that remembrance of the dead was necessary for the continued existence of the spirit in the afterlife, Greek tombs frequently pictured the deceased in ordinary settings from life (such as sitting down to dinner, enjoying the company of friends or family) in order to remind the living of who that person was in life. Greeks commemorated the anniversary of a loved one's death by visiting their tomb and conversing with them, always making sure to speak their name to show the dead they were remembered. In Athens, below the Acropolis, the graves of common citizens depict the same sort of scenes as those of the more affluent and always toward the end of remembrance. Soldiers who were killed in action were commonly buried on the field in mass graves and one single marker (usually a monument naming the battle and the date) served to honor the fallen. It was up to the living, however, to keep the deceased's memory alive and frequently a marker would be erected by an individual's family toward that end and would serve in place of an actual tomb at the anniversary ceremony of one's death. Tombs from the Mycenaen Period (1900-1100 BCE) are known as tholos, or beehive, tombs which are thought to have been derived from early Minoan architectural advances on Crete. One of the most famous of these tholos tombs is the Treasury of Atreus (also known as the Tomb of Agamemnon, pictured above) which was built c. 1250 BCE.

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Neolithic Tombs of Scotland & Ireland

The tombs in Scotland, such as the grave passage tomb of Maeshowe in Orkney, show a remarkable similarity to those of ancient Greece, particularly the tholos tomb. The Tomb of the Eagles (also on Orkney) dates to 3000 BCE and was found to contain the bones of over 300 people buried there over time. Among the skeletal remains of human beings were those of over 700 white-tailed eagles which have given the tomb its name. No personal possessions were discovered in either of these tombs but that absence has been ascribed to ancient looting of graves. The Neolithic tombs throughout Scotland were all very purposefully designed, as in other cultures, as homes of the dead in the land of the dead. At Maeshowe, for example, to enter the tomb one would need to move aside a great stone and then descend down into the chamber which represented the nether world. This same construction and ideology can be seen in the famous passage tomb of Newgrange in Ireland which is one of the oldest tombs in the world (pre-dating the Pyramids of Giza and the Mycenaean Civilization in Greece) built between 3300-2900 BCE. Newgrange, like Maeshowe, was carefully constructed to admit a single ray of light into the darkness of the inner chamber at the winter solstice and this, it is thought, was to symbolize the eternal life of the deceased. The oldest passage tombs in Ireland are in Sligo County with the largest megalithic cemetery at Carrowmore. Other tombs throughout Ireland (known as dolmens) are constructed much along the same lines as the Carrowmore tombs. The Brownshill Dolmen in County Carlow follows the custom of a burial chamber in the earth but is distinguished by a capstone perched on upright megaliths weighing 100 metric tons (thought to be the heaviest stone in Europe) and the tomb known as The Mound of the Hostages, in Meath, is similar to Newgrange in that it was constructed (c. 3000 BCE) so that the rising sun, on certain days, lights up the interior burial chamber to symbolize re-birth and the light of life.

Tombs of Ancient India

This concept is equally present in the tombs of India where, originally, tombs were caves or carved into rock cliffs but, eventually, evolved into mausoleums which celebrated the life of the deceased and ensured their immortality through remembrance by the living. Cremation was the most common method of dealing with the remains of the dead in India and, for this reason, tombs were not employed to the same degree as they were in other cultures. Hindu religious beliefs encouraged cremation and the spreading of one's ashes but, with the introduction of Islam to the country, the importance of the physical remains of the deceased was emphasized and tombs became more widespread as a means of honoring and remembering the dead. The most famous example of this, though not an ancient one, is the Taj Majal built in 1631 CE by Shah Jahan for his wife.


Roman Tombs & Catacombs

Tombs in ancient Rome followed the same course of development as in Egypt and elsewhere, beginning with burial underground or in caves and evolving into more elaborate structures to house the dead. Roman tombs also celebrated the life of the individual but, unlike those of Greece or India, often featured inscriptions rather than sculpture or relief whereby the deeds of the deceased could be read and recited. Romans were buried in cemeteries which were located outside of the city in order to mark the divide between the land of the living and that of the dead. As in Mesopotamia, the Romans feared the return of the dead and ghosts, unless summoned through divination for a specific purpose, were considered a potent evil. Wealthy Romans were interred with great flourish in elaborate tombs while those of more modest means were laid to rest in caves outside the city or were cremated. Cremation of the dead was the most popular means of disposing of corpses and, afterwards, the ashes were held in an urn which was kept in a place of honor in the household. The rise of Christianity, however, and the new belief in the bodily resurrection of the dead, led to a decrease in cremations and, simply lacking room for the deceased in cemeteries, catacombs dug in the earth, with shelves for corpses in the walls, became the most common form of the tomb in ancient Rome.

Unification of China Makes Construction Project Possible

In 221 B.C., when Qin Shi Huang became emperor, China had just emerged from over 200 years of provincial conflict known as the Warring States Period. Huang is credited with unifying these provinces under one centralized government and establishing the capital at Xianyang. With centralization came the power to direct a huge work force able to accomplish remarkable building projects, including several palaces, a huge park for hunting and other outdoor recreation, and an early version of the Great Wall of China, a massive wall constructed to protect China’s northern borders. Another major project was the emperor’s elaborate burial complex, which was erected during his lifetime and reportedly took an estimated 700,000 workers some three decades to complete.

Did you know? The thousands of terracotta warriors discovered at the Xian burial compound have distinctive individualized features, but most of their hands are identical and only eight molds were used to shape their heads.

The Centennial

At the Society of the Honor Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (SHGTUS) general membership meeting in October 2014, the Board of Directors approved the formation of the Centennial Committee. The committee was directed to act as the point of contact for Society matters related to the 100th Anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (TUS) and to develop resources, and coordinate and implement new Society educational campaigns, programs, and media releases associated with the 100th Anniversary of the TUS.

The Centennial Committee works closely with another non-profit organization, The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Foundation, in the national planning of the 100th Anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (TUS) in Arlington National Cemetery.

Our members are working tirelessly in every community in America to bring attention to each of the Unknown Soldiers, the anniversary of the burial of the World War I Unknown Soldier, why the Tomb as a national monument is important, and the Sentinels who have stood the watch since 1926 and continue to do so 24hrs a day, 7 days a week since 1937.

SGM (Ret) Gavin McIlvenna (1997-98), SHGTUS President
Centennial Committee Chairman

For more information regarding the Centennial and how you can help, click HERE.

Entrance to King Tut’s tomb discovered

British archaeologist Howard Carter and his workmen discover a step leading to the tomb of King Tutankhamen in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.

When Carter first arrived in Egypt in 1891, most of the ancient Egyptian tombs had been discovered, though the little-known King Tutankhamen, who had died when he was 18, was still unaccounted for. After World War I, Carter began an intensive search for “King Tut’s Tomb,” finally finding steps to the burial room hidden in the debris near the entrance of the nearby tomb of King Ramses VI in the Valley of the Kings. On November 26, 1922, Carter and fellow archaeologist Lord Carnarvon entered the interior chambers of the tomb, finding them miraculously intact.

Watch Engineering an Empire: Egypt on HISTORY Vault

Thus began a monumental excavation process in which Carter carefully explored the four-room tomb over several years, uncovering an incredible collection of several thousand objects. The most splendid architectural find was a stone sarcophagus containing three coffins nested within each other. Inside the final coffin, which was made out of solid gold, was the mummy of the boy-king Tutankhamen, preserved for more than 3,000 years. Most of these treasures are now housed in the Cairo Museum.

Finding King Herod’s Tomb

Shielding my eyes from the glare of the morning sun, I look toward the horizon and the small mountain that is my destination: Herodium, site of the fortified palace of King Herod the Great. I'm about seven miles south of Jerusalem, not far from the birthplace of the biblical prophet Amos, who declared: "Let justice stream forth like water." Herod's reign over Judea from 37 to 4 B.C. is not remembered for justice but for its indiscriminate cruelty. His most notorious act was the murder of all male infants in Bethlehem to prevent the fulfillment of a prophecy heralding the birth of the Messiah. There is no record of the decree other than the Gospel of Matthew, and biblical scholars debate whether it actually took place, but the story is in keeping with a man who arranged the murders of, among others, three of his own sons and a beloved wife.

Long an object of scholarly as well as popular fascination, Herodium, also called Herodion, was first positively identified in 1838 by the American scholar Edward Robinson, who had a knack for locating biblical landmarks. After scaling the mountain and comparing his observations with those of the first century Jewish-Roman historian Flavius Josephus, Robinson concluded that "all these particulars. leave scarcely a doubt, that this was Herodium, where the [Judean] tyrant sought his last repose." Robinson's observation was confirmed later that century by Conrad Schick, the famous German architect and archaeologist who conducted extensive surveys of Jerusalem and its nearby sites.

But where precisely was the king entombed? At the summit of Herodium? At the base? Inside the mountain itself? Josephus didn't say. By the late 1800s, Herod's tomb had become one of biblical archaeology's most sought-after prizes. And for more than a century archaeologists scoured the site. Finally, in 2007, Ehud Netzer of Hebrew University announced that after 35 years of archaeological work he had found Herod's resting place. The news made headlines worldwide—"A New Discovery May Solve the Mystery of the Bible's Bloodiest Tyrant," trumpeted the London Daily Mail.

"In terms of size, quality of decoration and prominence of its position, it's hard to reach any other conclusion," says Jodi Magness, an archaeologist in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who has excavated at other sites where Herod oversaw construction projects. Ken Holum, a University of Maryland archaeologist and historian who served as a curator for the traveling Smithsonian exhibition "King Herod's Dream," cautions that "it is always wise to be less than certain when there is no identifying inscription or other explicit identification." But he says he personally believes Netzer has indeed discovered Herod's tomb.

Netzer, 75, is one of Israel's best-known archaeologists and a renowned authority on Herod. Trained as an architect, he worked as an assistant to the archaeologist Yigael Yadin, who from 1963 to 1965 led an exhaustive dig at Masada, the fortified plateau near the Dead Sea where Herod built two palaces. In 1976, Netzer led a team that discovered the site of one of Herod's infamous misdeeds: the murder of his young brother-in-law, Aristobulus, whom Herod ordered to be drowned in a pool at his winter palace complex near Jericho. Yet the discovery of Herod's tomb would be Netzer's most celebrated find. And as is often the case with such discoveries, Netzer found it where, for years, he least expected it.

Arriving at Herodium, which is not only an active archaeological site but also, since the late 1960s, a national park, I drive partway up the mountain to the parking lot where I will meet Netzer. In the early 1980s, before the first intifada turned the West Bank into a conflict zone, Herodium drew some 250,000 people per year. For the moment I'm the sole visitor. At a kiosk I buy a ticket that lets me ascend on foot to the summit. At the base of the mountain the remains of a royal complex, known as Lower Herodium, sprawl across nearly 40 acres. Gone are the homes, gardens and stables the most recognizable structure is an immense pool, 220 by 150 feet, which is graced with a center island.

A narrow trail hugging the hillside leads me to an opening in the slope, where I enter an enormous cistern now part of a route to the summit, more than 300 feet above the surrounding countryside. The air inside is pleasantly cool, and the walls are smooth and dry, with patches of original plaster. I follow a network of tunnels dug during the second Jewish revolt against the Romans in A.D. 135 and enter another, smaller cistern. Daylight pours in. I climb a steep staircase and emerge at the summit, in the middle of the palace courtyard.

The palace fortress once reached close to 100 feet high and was surrounded by double concentric walls accented by four cardinal point towers. Besides living quarters, the upper palace had a triclinium (a Greco-Roman-style formal dining room lined on three sides by a couch) and a bathhouse that features a domed, hewn-stone ceiling with an oculus (round opening). It's strange to find such a perfectly preserved structure amid the ancient ruins, and it leaves me with an eerie sense of standing both in the past and the present.

Gazing out from the perimeter wall, I see Arab villages and Israeli settlements in three directions. But to the east cultivation abruptly stops as the desert exerts its authority, plummeting out of sight to the Dead Sea, then rising again as the mountains of Jordan. Why would Herod build such a prominent fortress—the largest palace complex in the Roman world—on the edge of a desert?

Though the site had little apparent strategic value, it held profound meaning for Herod. Born around 73 B.C., he was the governor of Galilee when, in 40 B.C., the Parthian Empire conquered Judea (then under Roman control) and named a new king, Mattathias Antigonus. Herod, probably more shrewd than loyal, declared allegiance to Rome and fled Jerusalem with as many as 5,000 people—his family and a contingent of fighting men—under cover of night.

Surging over rocky terrain, the wagon in which Herod's mother was riding overturned. Herod drew his sword and was on the verge of suicide when he saw she had survived. He returned to the battle and fought "not like one that was in distress. but like one that was excellently prepared for war," Josephus wrote. In tribute to his victory and his mother's survival, he vowed to be buried there.

Herod sought refuge in Petra (in today's Jordan)—capital of the Nabateans, his mother's people—before heading to Rome. Three years later, with Rome's backing, Herod conquered Jerusalem and became king of Judea. A decade would pass before he would begin work on the remote fortified palace that would fulfill his pledge.

Herod must have given a lot of thought to how Herodium would function, given the lack of a reliable water source and the mountain's distance from Jerusalem (in those days, a three- to four-hour trip by horseback). He arranged for spring water to be brought three and a half miles via an aqueduct, relocated the district capital to Herodium (with all the staff that such a move implied) and surrounded himself with 10 to 20 trustworthy families.

"Herodium was built to solve the problem he himself created by making a commitment to be buried in the desert," says Netzer. "The solution was to build a large palace, a country club—a place of enjoyment and pleasure." The summit palace could be seen by Herod's subjects in Jerusalem, while the tallest of the four towers offered the king pleasant breezes and a gripping view of his domain.

Ongoing excavations by Netzer reveal the impressive variety of facilities that Herod built at his desert retreat, including a royal theater that accommodated some 450 spectators. Netzer believes it was constructed to entertain Marcus Agrippa, Rome's second in command and a close friend of the Judean king, who visited Herodium in 15 B.C. Netzer unlocks a plywood door that has been installed on the site and invites me into the royal box, where Herod and his honored guests would have been seated. The walls were decorated with vivid secco landscape paintings (colors applied to dry, not wet, plaster). The colors, though subdued now, still feel vibrant, and we gaze at the image of an animal, maybe a gazelle, loping along.

Around 10 B.C., according to Netzer, Herod oversaw the construction of his mausoleum. Upon its completion, he undertook the final stage of his self-commemoration by literally increasing the mountain's height: Herod's crew carted gravelly soil and rocks from the surrounding area to Herodium, pouring it all around the summit. Even with unlimited manpower, it must have been a Sisyphean enterprise to pile all that earth some 65 feet high and comb it over the original slopes like a child's carefully smoothed sand hill. "Like a pyramid," Netzer says, "the entire mountain was turned into a monument."

The borders of Judea were quiet during Herod's reign, enabling him to undertake an ambitious building program that brought employment and prosperity to the region. The major projects he completed include the incomparable Temple in Jerusalem, a stunning winter palace in Jericho, two palaces atop Masada and the harbor at Caesarea. A palace garden in Jericho was elevated so that people strolling along the colonnades would see the foliage and flowers at eye level.

Still, Herod's reign is remembered more for its ruthlessness and paranoia than its architectural feats. He tortured and killed family members, servants and bodyguards, to say nothing of his real enemies. In an Othello-like rage, Herod even ordered the execution of the woman he loved most—his second wife, Mariamne—believing that she had committed adultery. Herod's eldest son and heir apparent, Antipater, convinced the king that two of his other sons were plotting against him—so Herod had them executed. And when Herod learned that Antipater was planning to poison him, he rose from his bed just five days before he died to order the murder of Antipater. (As the Roman Emperor Augustus supposedly quipped: "It's better to be Herod's pig than his son.") In a final act of depravity, Herod imprisoned all the notables of Judea, ordering that they be executed on the day of his death so the country would be plunged into mourning. But when Herod died, in Jericho at about age 69—probably of kidney failure exacerbated by a genital infection, according to Aryeh Kasher's recent biography King Herod: A Persecuted Persecutor—the prisoners were released. Instead of mourning, rejoicing filled the land.

Josephus wrote that Herod's body was conveyed to Herodium, "where, in accordance with the directions of the deceased, it was interred." The late king was "covered with purple and a diadem was put upon his head, and a crown of gold above it, and a scepter in his right hand."

And so began a mystery that tantalized scholars for centuries.

In the 1860s, Felicien de Saulcy, a French explorer, searched for Herod's tomb on the island in the center of the vast pool in Lower Herodium. Father Virgilio Corbo led an excavation at the summit from 1963 to 1967 on behalf of the Franciscan Faculty of Biblical Sciences and Archaeology in Rome. In 1983, a team led by Lambert Dolphin, a Silicon Valley geophysicist, used sonar and rock-penetrating radar to identify what Dolphin thought was a burial chamber inside the base of the highest tower on the mountaintop.

Netzer, however, did not find Dolphin's data convincing enough to redirect his efforts from other, more promising sites—notably a monumental building in the lower complex. Moreover, Netzer and others argue that entombment in the tower would have been unthinkable, because Jewish law proscribed burial within a living space. Barbara Burrell, a classics professor at the University of Cincinnati, wrote in 1999 that interring Herod inside the palace "would have horrified both Romans and Jews, neither of whom dined with their dead."

Netzer smiles as he recalls that when he investigated the cisterns and tunnels within Herodium in the early 1970s, he was actually standing less than ten feet from the tomb, which he later found halfway up the eastern slope. But Netzer instead continued to focus his attention on the foot of the mountain. "We kept getting hotter and hotter," says Ya'akov Kalman, one of Netzer's longtime associates, "but nothing came of it." Netzer believes that Herod originally intended to be buried in the lower complex, but for unknown reasons changed his mind and chose this other location. In 2005, having completed his work at Lower Herodium without revealing a burial chamber, Netzer turned once again to the mountain.

In April 2007, his team discovered hundreds of red limestone fragments buried in the mountainside. Many bore delicate rosettes—a motif common to Jewish ossuaries and some sarcophagi of the era. Reassembling some of the pieces, Netzer concluded they were all that remained of a sarcophagus more than eight feet long with a gabled cover. The high quality of the craftsmanship suggested the sarcophagus was fit for a king. Plus, the extent of the fragmentation suggested that people had deliberately smashed it—a plausible outcome for the hated monarch's resting place. Based on coins and other items found nearby, Netzer surmises that the desecration occurred during the first Jewish revolt against the Romans, from A.D. 66 to 73. (As Kasher notes in his biography, "Herod the Great" was, for the Jews, an ironic title, designating an arrogant monarch who scorned the religious laws of his own people.)

Within two weeks of finding the rosette fragments, workers unearthed the remains of two white limestone sarcophagi strewn about the tomb. Netzer believes one could have held Herod's fourth wife, Malthace, mother of his son Archelaus. The third sarcophagus might be that of Archelaus' second wife, who, based on the accounts of Josephus, was likely named Glaphyra. Workers also found a few bone fragments at the tomb site, though Netzer is skeptical that an analysis of the scant remains will yield any meaningful information about the identities of those buried at Herodium.

Netzer acknowledges that absent further evidence, the rosette-decorated sarcophagus cannot be definitively assigned to Herod. Duane Roller, professor emeritus of Greek and Latin at Ohio State University and author of the 1998 book The Building Program of Herod the Great, concedes that the tomb belonged to someone of noble lineage, but is convinced that Herod's burial site is at the base of the summit tower. For one thing, Roller notes its similarity to other tombs built in Italy at that time. The lack of an inscription particularly troubles some scholars. David Jacobson, a researcher affiliated with University College London and the Palestine Exploration Fund, suggests that a sarcophagus of a very important personage would have been inscribed, and he points to that of Queen Helena of Adiabene, which was recovered from her royal mausoleum in Jerusalem. But others, including Netzer, point out that it was not common for Jews of that era to inscribe sarcophagi. Besides, it's plausible that Herodium itself was the inscription the entire edifice declares, "Behold me!"

Clad in work shorts, hiking shoes and a well-worn leather Australian bush hat, Netzer scampers up the path to the tomb site. The septuagenarian offers me a hand as I seek a toehold. He greets the crew in Hebrew and Arabic as we pass from one section, where workers wield pickaxes, to another, where a young architect sketches decorative elements.

The tomb site is nearly barren, but the podium that bore the royal sarcophagus hints at magnificence. It is set into the stony earth, partially exposed and unmarred, the joints between the smooth white ashlars (slabs of square stone) so fine as to suggest they were cut by a machine. Netzer has also found the corner pilasters (columns partially built into the walls), enabling him to estimate that the mausoleum, nestled against the side of the mountain, stood on a base 30 by 30 feet and was some 80 feet high—as tall as a seven-story building. It was built of a whitish limestone called meleke (Arabic for "royal") that was also used in Jerusalem and in the nearby Tomb of Absalom—named after the rebellious son of King David, but likely the tomb of the Judean King Alexander Jannaeus.

The mausoleum's design is similar to the Tomb of Absalom, which dates to the first century B.C. and is notable for its conical roof, a motif also seen at Petra. The remnants of the mausoleum's facade are composed of the three elements of classical entablature: architraves (ornamental beams that sit atop columns), friezes (horizontal bands above the architraves) and cornices (crown molding found on the top of buildings). Netzer has also found pieces of five decorative urns. The urn was a funerary motif, used notably at Petra.

Despite the work still to be done—excavating, assembling, publishing the data—Netzer is clearly gratified by what he has learned, which is, he says, the "secret" of Herodium: how Herod found a way to keep his vow and be buried in the desert. "In my field, ancient archaeology, you could say that once circumstances give me the opportunity to be quite certain, it's not in my character to have further doubts."

Barbara Kreiger is the author of The Dead Sea and teaches creative writing at Dartmouth College.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guards

Summary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guards
Summary: The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guards in Arlington National Cemetery are members of the 3rd United States Infantry Regiment, nicknamed "The Old Guard". The sentinels are assigned to guard the monument to ensure the respect and security of one of America's most sacred symbols. The guards adhere to a solemn and precise ritual called the changing of the guard ceremony.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guards in Arlington National Cemetery perform their duties 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Their dedication to their sacred duty and their eternal vigilance is reflected in the 'Sentinel's Creed'.

Facts about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guards for kids
The following fact sheet continues with facts about Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guards. The picture below provides the words of the Sentinel's Creed.

Who guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier? The army guards are from the 4th Battalion of the 3rd United States Infantry Regiment, "The Old Guard".

Why are there guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier? To ensure the continued respect and security of one of the nation's most sacred symbols

When do the guards change at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier? The guards are changed every hour, on the hour, from October 1 to March 31. From April 1 through September 30 another change is added on the half hour. The tomb is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. During nighttime hours the measured and precise step of the on duty sentinel remains unchanged from the daylight hours.

Why are the guards gloves wet at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier? To prevent losing the grip on the rifle.

How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier? The guard takes 21 steps and then pauses for 21 seconds after his about face to begin his return walk. The significance of '21' reflects the twenty-one gun salute, the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary.

Facts about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guards for kids
The following fact sheet continues with facts about Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guards at Arlington National Cemetery.

Facts about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guards for kids

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guards Fact 1: In 1926, the first US Army soldier was posted to guard the memorial during cemetery hours.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guards Fact 2: On July 1, 1937 guard duty was extended to the 24 hour watch.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guards Fact 3: The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment ("The Old Guard") formally took over the duties of Honor Guard on April 6, 1948.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guards Fact 4: The 3rd United States Infantry, "The Old Guard", has served continuously since 1784. It is the oldest active-duty infantry unit in the U.S. Army and is the Army's official ceremonial unit, escort to the president, and also provides security for Washington, D.C.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guards Fact 5: Guards must memorize 7 pages of history on Arlington National Cemetery and then recite it verbatim before being granted "a walk". The military ritual guard change ceremony, and the grave locations of nearly 300 veterans are also part of the requirements of a sentinel.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guards Fact 6: The guards hold no rank. This is because the rank of the unidentified dead is unknown and it would be inappropriate for the Unknowns to be guarded by someone who outranks them.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guards Fact 7: To these special guards, the continuity of this post is the key to the honor and respect shown to the honored dead and their duties remain uninterrupted during all weathers. During heat waves, blizzards, hurricanes, rain, sleet, snow and hail they continue their guard, welfare of the Soldier is never put at risk.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guards Fact 8: How often are the Guards changed? Every 30 minutes during the summer (April 1 to September 30) and every 30 minutes during the winter (October 1 to March 31). During closing hours the guard is changed every 2 hours. The tomb is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guards Fact 9: The Tomb Guards march 21 steps down the black mat behind the Tomb, turns, faces east for 21 seconds, turns and faces north for 21 seconds, then takes 21 steps down the mat and repeats the process.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guards Fact 10: Out of respect for the dead, the guards carry the rifle on the outside shoulder - away from the Tomb.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guards Fact 11: Guards are not permitted to speak or break his march, unless someone enters the restricted area around the Tomb.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guards Fact 12: For a person to apply for guard duty at the tomb, he must be between 5' 10" - 6' 2" tall and his waist size cannot exceed 30 inches. A small number of female soldiers have applied and been accepted for the position

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guards Fact 13: The average length of duty for guards at the memorial is 18 months.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guards Fact 14: Myths! Whilst off-duty guards are allowed to take alcohol!

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guards Fact 15: The Hurricane: Hurricane Isabel was the deadliest, costliest, and strongest hurricane in the 2003 Atlantic hurricane season, but the sentinels continued with their sentry duties during this difficult night.

Facts about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guards for kids

Facts about Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guards for kids: Changing of the Guard Ceremony at Arlington
The changing of the guard ceremony at Arlington cemetery is conducted:

● Every 30 minutes from 8am until 7pm (April 1 - September 30th)
● Every 60 minutes from 8am until 5pm (October 1 - March 31st)
● Every 2 hours when the Arlington cemetery is closed.

The Changing of the Guard Ceremony at Arlington
The changing of the guard ceremony at Arlington National cemetery is as follows:

1. A uniformed relief commander enters the plaza to announce the Changing of the Guard. He approaches the tomb, slowly salutes, then faces the visitors and yells requesting silence during the ceremony.

2. The relief sentinel unlocks the bolt of his M-14 rifle to signify that he is ready to begin the ceremony and the relief commander conducts a white-glove inspection of the sentinel's weapon. This is a real inspection and the relief sentinel can be sent away, leaving the current sentinel in place till the next scheduled Changing of the Guard.

3. The commander and the sentinel march to the center of the black mat where the duty sentinel stops his walk. All three soldiers salute the Tomb and perform the changing of the guard ceremony.

4. The words are as follows:

● "Pass on your orders." the relief commander instructs the active sentinel
● "Post and orders, remain as directed." is the active sentinel's reply
● "Orders acknowledged." answers the relieving sentinel

5. The relieving sentinel steps into position at the center of the black mat. All three soldiers salute the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

6. As soon as the relief commander passes, the relieving sentinel begins his own walk - 21 paces south, turn and pause for 21 seconds, turn and pace 21 steps south.

7. The actions are repeated until the active sentinel is relieved by the next guard.

8. Both the relief commander and the relieved sentinel exit off the right, which concludes the ceremony.

Facts about Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guards for kids
For visitors interested in the history of WW1 refer to the following articles:

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guards for kids - The President's Video
The following video will give you additional important facts, history and dates about the personal and political lives of all the US Presidents.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guards

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Young Emperor

Ying Zheng took the throne in 246 B.C. at the age of 13. By 221 B.C. he had unified a collection of warring kingdoms and took the name of Qin Shi Huang Di—the First Emperor of Qin.

During his rule, Qin standardized coins, weights, and measures interlinked the states with canals and roads and is credited for building the first version of the Great Wall.

According to writings of court historian Siam Qian during the following Han dynasty, Qin ordered the mausoleum's construction shortly after taking the throne. More than 700,000 laborers worked on the project, which was halted in 209 B.C. amid uprisings a year after Qin's death.

To date, four pits have been partially excavated. Three are filled with the terra-cotta soldiers, horse-drawn chariots, and weapons. The fourth pit is empty, a testament to the original unfinished construction.

Archaeologists estimate the pits may contain as many as 8,000 figures, but the total may never be known.

Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider (stylized as Lara Croft: Tomb Raider from 2001-2007) is a multimedia franchise which began with the video games, that follows the adventures and exploits of Lara Croft, a world-renowned archaeologist adventuress and the series' main protagonist.

The series began in 1996 with Tomb Raider. The game was an unexpected critical and commercial success, spawning numerous games (sequels and reboots), comic books, spin-offs, movie adaptations and Lara herself as a sponsor for many companies and products.

The series was noted for being a pioneer in gaming, for being one of the best examples of early 3D platforming.

Akbar was nurtured by his uncles Kamran Mirza and Askari Mirza. He learnt to hunt and fight but never read or written. Akbar married to the daughter of his paternal uncle Hindal Mirza whose name was Ruqaiya Sultan Begum. Humayun conquered Delhi in 1555 and again established Mughal Empire.

Humayun died when he fall from stairs in his library and Akbar succeeded him. Akbar was a minor so Bairam Khan guided him in ruling the kingdom. Humayun conquered Delhi, Agra, and Punjab but Suris again reconquered them after his death. Bairam Khan planned an attack on Sikandar Suri but Suri avoided the battle.

His minister Hemu and the army of Suris was defeated in 1556 in the second battle of Panipat. Later Akbar defeated Sikandar Suri and also captured Gwalior which was also under Suris. Akbar expanded his kingdom by defeating many Muslim rulers, Rajput rulers and other rulers. Akbar died in 1605 due to suffering from dysentery.