Mukawir | City of Machaerus



Mukawir is a place where Herod built walls around the top and erected towers at the corners, each 90 feet high. At the center of this fence, he built a building that took your breath away in size and beauty. This was said by the famous 1st-century historian!


A historian named Flavius ​​Joseph, of the 1st century A.D, identifies the imposing site of Mukawir (Machaerus) as the fortress of Herod, the ruler that the Romans settled in the region during the life of Jesus Christ. It was here, in this fortified palace overlooking the region of the Dead Sea, that Herod Antipas, son of Herod, imprisoned and beheaded John the Baptist after the fatal dance of Salome.

After Herod's death, when his kingdom was divided among the three surviving sons, the territory passed to Herod Antipas. About 30 years later, Antipas divorced his wife (a Nabatean princess, daughter of Aretas V) to marry Herodias, his brother Philip's wife. The repudiated wife left for Machaerus crossed the nearby border with Nabataea and from there, under the protection of the Nabataean army, settled south in the capital of her father, called Petra.

John the Baptist, who openly condemned Antipas' divorce and his new repeated marriage, also came to Machaerus - but as a prisoner. Giuseppe Flavio tells us that it is here that Salome, the daughter of Herodias, danced, and, at the instigation of her mother, asked for the Baptist's head on a plate.

When Herod Antipas died, his lands were taken by the Romans, who installed a contingent of soldiers in Machaerus. But in 66 A.D, in the initial stages of the first Jewish revolt against Roman rule, a group of rebels conquered the fortress by removing it from the hands of the Roman garrison.

The truce was very short - immediately after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, the governor of Judea, Lucilio Basso, led an attack on the castle and destroyed it. The fortresses that the Romans had built for the siege and the ramp they created to launch the final assault are still visible on the ridge below. But the ramp was never used because the defenders surrendered.

The local name of this hill, that is al-mishnaqa, the gallows, bears resonances of its early notoriety, since the fortress that dominates it is traditionally associated with the imprisonment and execution of John the Baptist. Located on the hills southwest of Madaba, and overlooking the Dead Sea, Machaerus fortress is located near the small village of Mukawir, whose name reflects the ancient one. But the history of Machaerus is older than that of John the Baptist.

The local name of this hill, that is al-mishnaqa, the gallows, bears resonances of its early notoriety, since the fortress that dominates it is traditionally associated with the imprisonment and execution of John the Baptist. Located on the hills southwest of Madaba, and overlooking the Dead Sea, Machaerus fortress is located near the small village of Mukawir, whose name reflects the ancient one. But the history of Machaerus is older than that of John the Baptist.

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