Israelis You Should Know: Ehud Netzer
The Fellowship | May 13, 2016
Name: Ehud Netzer
Life: May 13, 1934 – October 28, 2010
About him: Ehud Netzer was an Israeli archaeologist whose discoveries included the tomb of Herod the Great, as well as the oldest known synagogue.
Ehud Netzer was born in Jerusalem, the son of teachers. After receiving a degree in architecture from Technion, he spent his summers on excavations with Yigeal Yadin, a famous Israeli archaeologist. It was during one of these excavations that Netzer met his future wife. His interest in the Holy Land’s archaeology piqued, Netzer obtained a Ph.D. in archaeology from Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Netzer’s specialty was the biblical king, Herod the Great – so much so that he would become the world’s top authority on Herodian architecture. In the 1960s, Netzer was the co-architect in charge of the excavation of Masada, directing the restoration of the site.
From 1967-1975, he was also the head architect of the excavation and restoration of Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter, also planning the restoration of the Holy City’s Jewish neighborhoods.
Beginning in 1972, Netzer worked for 15 years at Herodium, the enormous cone-shaped fortress built by Herod outside of Bethlehem. After a ten-year break, Netzer resumed work on Herodium until his death in 2010. In May of 2007, he identified the tomb of King Herod.
Besides his extensive work in Jerusalem, at Masada, and at Herodium, Netzer also discovered the oldest synagogue ever found. Starting in 1973, he excavated at Jericho for a decade. At this oasis, he uncovered not only Herod’s winter palace, but the Wadi Qlet Synagogue, built between 70 and 50 BCE.
Ehud Netzer died doing what he loved. On October 25, 2010, he fell when a railing gave way at the Herodium excavation site, and died three days later of his injuries.