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View looking south at the staircase on the northern slope of the Herodium in the "enclosed" portion that leads into the interior of the top of the Herodium.
The modern staircase is where the final staircase was located. Below that, note the series of arches. Below them is where the original staircase was located.
This staircase led up to the top of the "mountain" was the formal entry into the upper palace. It was evidently built in two phases: arches below the current staircase are from the first phase of the staircase. It seems that the second (final) phase was constructed in anticipation of the visit of Marcus Agrippa, Augustus's right-hand man, in 15 or 14 BC.
After Agrippa's visit, Herod began construction of his mausoleum to the east this staircase, and the staircase itself was covered over when the whole "mountain" was covered with fill that gave the "mountain" its distinctive volcanic shape—as a memorial mound. Thus, the staircase and the entrance at the top of it are very well preserved.
Josephus wrote in his Antiquities that ". . . it has a steep ascent formed of two hundred steps of hewn stone" and in War ". . . and provided an easy ascent by two hundred steps of the purest white marble."