The Queen of Adiabene and a Rolling Stone

Queen Mother Helena of Adiabene came to Jerusalem with her son, King Izates, as a convert to Judaish in A.D. 46. Adiabene was located in northern Mesopotamia east of the Tigris River. During the famine in Judea, mentioned in Acts 11:28-30, the queen sent to Egypt for grain and to Cyprus for dried figs (Josephus, Ant. 20.51).

A recent excavation south of the Dung Gate, called the Givati garage area, has revealed a massive building which is being suggested as the palace of Queen Helena. So far there is no absolute proof that the Queen is to be identified with the structures, but it is a good suggestion. The reference in Josephus to the palace of the Queen in the lower city is helpful (Jewish Wars 6.355).

The press release of the Israel Antiquities Authority, December 3, 2007, says:

In the excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority is carrying out with the Nature and Parks Authority and the Ir David Foundation, an impressive architectural complex is being uncovered that includes massive foundations; walls, some of which are preserved to a height in excess of five meters and built of stones that weigh hundreds of kilograms; halls that are preserved to a height of at least two stories; a basement level that was covered with vaults; remains of polychrome frescoes; water installations and ritual baths (miqve’ot).

This photo shows the excavation at the bottom and the south wall of the old city of Jerusalem at the top. The City of David is directly to the right of the excavation.

Skyview of the excavation thought to be a palace belonging to Queen Adiabene. Photo supplied by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The photo below shows details of one portion of the excavation.

Excavation thought to be palace of Queen Adiabene. Photo provided by Israel Antiquities Authority.

The excavation turned up stone vessels, pottery, and coins belonging to the end of the Herodian Temple [Israelis call this the Second Temple] period. This means prior to A.D. 70 when the Romans destroyed the temple. These coins bear images of, among other things, a vine leaf, a chalice, and an amphora with handles.

Coins found in the Givati excavation. Photo supplied by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

A large burial complex was dug north of the city for the burial of the Queen and her family. This is the tomb referred to in modern times as the Tomb of the Kings. It is a good place to see a rolling stone and a tomb hewn from solid rock. The property is under French control and the last three or more times I have been there it has been closed, and I was unable to rouse anyone by ringing the bell.

Tomb of the Kings, Jerusalem. The tomb of Queen Adiabene. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
This rolling stone is of the same type that covered the tomb of Jesus. When Joseph of Arimathea was granted permission from Pilate to bury Jesus, the historical record says,
And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away. (Matthew 27:59-60)

4 responses to “The Queen of Adiabene and a Rolling Stone

  1. Pingback: Sarcophagus of the Queen of Adiabene returns to Israel | Ferrell's Travel Blog

  2. Pingback: Cupid cameo found in Jerusalem | Ferrell's Travel Blog

  3. Pingback: Learning more at the SBL meeting « Ferrell’s Travel Blog

  4. Pingback: Gold earring from Roman-Byzantine period « Ferrell’s Travel Blog

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