A famed Israeli archaeologist who said he found the tomb of Herod the Great has died after a fall earlier this week at the historic excavation site where he had worked for decades, DPA reported.
Professor Ehud Netzer, 76, died in a Jerusalem hospital late Thursday. He had suffered serious injuries during the fall, which apparently was due to a railing giving way.
"His tragic passing is a loss to the family, to those who study Israel's heritage and to the science of archeology," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement issued on Friday.
Herod the Great was a Roman-appointed local Jewish king in the 1st century BC, known as much for his cruelty - as described in the New Testament - as for the monumental buildings he constructed throughout the region.
They include the rebuilt second Jewish Biblical Temple in Jerusalem, the fortress of Masada by the Dead Sea and the palace of Herodium, also in the southern West Bank.
Netzer announced in early 2007 that by piecing together Herod's funeral procession, his team had discovered the base of a destroyed mausoleum at Herodium, and then the pieces of a sarcophagus, which he believed was the stone casket of Herod.
At the time, he called the discovery "significant" because of Herod's notoriety and the fact that he lived close to the time of Jesus' birth.