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Herod the Great built a large, rectangular enclosure over the caves, the only fully surviving Herodian structure from the period of Hellenistic Judaism.
Herod's building, with 6-foot-thick stone walls made from stones that were at least 3 feet (0.91 m) tall and sometimes reach a length of 24 feet (7.3 m), did not have a roof.
Dating back over 2,000 years, the monumental Herodian compound is believed to be the oldest continuously used intact prayer structure in the world, and is the oldest major building in the world that still fulfills its original function.
(Genesis 50:1–14) When Joseph died in the last verse, he was also embalmed.In 1100, after the area was captured by the Crusaders, the enclosure once again became a church and Muslims were no longer permitted to enter.During this period, the area was given a new gabled roof, clerestory windows and vaulting.According to tradition that has been associated with the Holy Books Torah, Bible and Quran, the cave and adjoining field were purchased by Abraham as a burial plot.The site of the Cave of the Patriarchs is located beneath a Saladin-era mosque, which had been converted from a large rectangular Herodian-era Judean structure.