Herod’s Temple at Sebaste, Then and Now
King Herod built a magnificent temple in Jerusalem, but not as many people are aware that he built three other temples in the land of Israel, all to Gentile deities. The ancient capital of the northern kingdom, Samaria, was renamed Sebaste by Herod in honor of Emperor Augustus, and he constructed a temple here dedicated to the emperor.
Samaria/Sebaste was first excavated by Harvard University from 1908 to 1910 under the direction of George Andrew Reisner. The photo below shows the foundations of Herod’s temple shortly after those excavations.
Today this area is largely filled in and overgrown, with only a few walls and pillar bases visible. The political situation today makes it difficult for most tourists to visit the site.
Herod’s temple foundations, view from northwest
Herod’s temple foundations, view from southeast
The first photograph is one of 600 high-resolution images in the newly released Northern Palestine CD, volume 1 of The American Colony and Eric Matson Collection. Photo: Library of Congress, LC-matpc-07375.