It is a dramatic and gruesome account recorded in two of the Gospels of the New Testament. Herod Antipas, son of King Herod the Great, had John the Baptist executed after promising to grant any request of Salome who had pleased him with her dance. She asked for the head of John.

According to Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (AD 37-100) these events took place in AD 29 at Herod’s mountaintop citadel of Machaerus. The remains of Machaerus sit above the Dead Sea’s east shore in modern Jordan. Now, a Hungarian Franciscan team of archaeologists headed by excavation director Győző Vörös think they have discovered the pavilion at Machaerus where the deadly dance elicited the fatal pronouncement.

The key to the conclusion by Vörös and his team that they had likely found the very floor where the dance took place was the discovery of a semi-circular niche beside a courtyard. The 7,000 square foot courtyard had originally been unearthed in 1980, but the remains of the throne were only recently recognised. The original level of the floor is lost, but evidence uncovered by the archaeologists last year points to a set of stairs leading to an elevated platform on one side of the hall where the throne sat from which Herod Antipas would have watched the dance.

The team also uncovered a myriad of other archaeological finds at the site from the same era.

Patterns of Evidence