In 2014, the Ehud Netzer Expedition for the Study of Herodium from the Hebrew University commenced excavations in the area of the approach to the mountain palace-fortress at Herodium (hereafter “the mountain palace”). The excavations produced surprising new data with respect to the stages of construction and the layout of the entrance to the hilltop structure, shedding light on Herod's last building project at the site at the time when he transformed the entire hill into his burial and memorial complex (fig. 1 in colour).
The presence of a monumental stairway ascending the NE slope of the mount and leading to the structure at its top has long been known, as was that of a sloping passageway that led to the door entering the mountain palace. This arched passageway was intended to make entry possible through the fill of the conical artificial mount. Also prior to the new excavations the entrance room of the hilltop structure was known. The door leading into the courtyard of the palace had been exposed during the Franciscan excavations directed by V. Corbo in the early 1960s, while in 1968-69 G. Foerster exposed the S part of the entrance room, as well as some of the upper arches of the passageway (fig. 2).