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View looking south at the staircase on the northern slope of the Herodium. This staircase led up to the top of the "mountain" and was the formal entry into the upper palace.
Josephus wrote in his Antiquities that ". . . it [the Herodium] 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."
The staircase was evidently built in two phases: arches below the existing staircase are from the first phase of the stairs. 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 that 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 now-visible volcanic shape—as a memorial mound. Thus, the staircase and the entrance at the top of it are very well preserved.