In 66 AD, during a Jewish revolt against the Romans, the radical Jewish Zealots took over the Roman garrison at Masada and held the fortress for more than 6 years. By that time the Romans had conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the temple. Masada was the last stronghold of the Jews and in 73 AD was under siege for several months by 10-15,000 Roman soldiers. There were 967 residents of Masada. In spring of 74 AD, the Jewish Zealots, led by Elazar Ben-Yair, decided to take their own lives, and the lives of their wives and children, rather than be captured by the Romans. Some modern archeologists claim the story of Masada is a myth, partly because they only found 28 skeletal remains there. I choose to believe the story. Read more about it and decide for yourself!
Date(s): April 2012. Album by Kathie Muench. Photos by Kathie Muench. 1 - 22 of 22 Total. 289 Visits.
1 Site of the Qumran caves. The Assenes lived on the top of these hills and hid scrolls in the caves below about 2000 years ago. 230 natural caves have been found here.
2 The little triangular cave is known as 4Q, and was discovered in 1952. Three-fourths of the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in that cave.
3 It's 1300 feet up to the ruins of Masada. We reached it by cable car rather than hiking for 45 minutes up the tortuous Snake Path.
4 Ramps take us the rest of the way up to Masada. It was first built as a fortress in the 1st or 2nd century BC.
5 Herod the Great built a palace and Roman baths and other comforts here from 37-31 BC. He intended Masada to be a retreat as well as a refuge for himself in case of a Jewish revolt. He came to Masada 4 times but died in 4 BC, 70 years before the revolt took place.
6 The original walls are below the black lines.
7 Many walls have been restored.
8 The lookout
9 Centuries of dirt have been removed to show the colors of the original walls.
10 Ostraca, pieces of potsherds with Hebrew names written on them, thought to be the very lots cast by the defenders as they decided who would kill the others with a sword rather than let them fall into Roman hands. The Zealots cast lots to choose 10 men to kill the remainder of the 960. They then chose among themselves the one man who would kill the survivors. That last Jew then killed himself.
11 Entrance to the luxurious Roman baths.
12 The Roman baths. Its suspended floor was supported by rows of low pillars, making it possible to blow hot air from the furnace outside, under the floor and through clay pipes along the walls, to heat the room to the desired temperature.
13 Remains of buildings in Masada.
15 One of the cisterns. Two women and five children hid in a cistern the night of the mass suicide. Through them the Roman conquerors learned the story of Masada.
16 To supply water to this desert fortress, winter rain was diverted to ditches from nearby wadis into huge cisterns near the foot of the mountain. Water was then carried by men and animals up to cisterns on the summit.
17 Views of the valleys below.
20 Masada overlooks the Dead Sea, which is 1,388 feet below sea level, the lowest spot on earth.
21 The Romans built camps and walls around Masada, then built a ramp using thousands of tons of stones and dirt to reach the summit. They moved a huge battering ram up the ramp and broke down the wall of the fortress. The remains of the walls and ramp can still be seen.