Nikos Kokkinos (ed.), The World of the Herods. Volume 1 of the International Conference The World of the Herods and the Nabataeans held at the British Museum, 17-19 April 2001, Oriens et Occidens, 14, Stuttgart 2007.
I've already mentioned that in the past conversion was encouraged, and that Jews converted - sometimes at the point of a sword. The Idumeans were amongst those forcibly converted to Judaism by John Hyrcanus, a Hasmonean ruler in the later second century BC, after he had conquered the region. The Herodians were Idumeans who worked first for the Hasmoneans, then the Romans. I've always understood that Herod the Great was not seen as a 'real' Jew because of the conversion (also his mother was Nabatean), so I was surprised to read in the review of:
the rabbis' tendency to blur distinctions between the Hasmoneans and the Herods
So I guess that might be a more modern, artificial distinction we make.
Part of the book covers archaeology, and I found this idea particularly interesting:
Ehud Netzer's article, "The Ideal City in the Eyes of Herod the Great," surveys urban planning in Sebaste (Samaria), Jerusalem, Caesarea Maritima, Antipatris, and Herodium (pp. 71-91). Netzer points out that Herod's urban planning tended to use temples with large precincts as focal points. This might reveal influence from the Capitoline Temple and Forum Iulium in Rome.
The Romans had been in charge for a while, so I suppose it's only natural that they were influential. Apparently the Romans might also have influenced elements of Herod's Temple too, according to David Jacobson's article.
Yizhar Hirschfeld argues that Qumran was a Fortified Manor House, which I consider one of the better interpretations of the site.
For those interested in military history, unfortunately Israel Schatzman only provided an abstract of his "The Formation of the Herodian Army: Hasmonean Tradition and Roman Influence."
Nikos Kokkinos has done some amazing work on the Herodians, and it's wonderful to see a scholar who manages to convince others to publish so much.
In summary: Herod. Great king. Not just the man who tried to kill Jesus.