Masada: Masada is an isolated rock plateau mountain, one of the most visited tourist sites in Israel and a unique archaeological site with old palaces and fortifications in the Southern District of Israel.
After the Great Jewish Revolt against the Roman occupation of Judea, a group of Jewish extremists called the Sicarii overcame the Roman garrison of Masada. The Roman Empire, led by the Roman governor of Judea, Lucius Flavius Silva, laid a siege to the last rebels hiding in the fortress at the top of the mountain. The siege led to the mass suicide of the Sicarii rebels and their families, who preferred death to surrender. All our historical information about Masada is based on books written by Josephus Flavius.
According to Josephus, a first-century Jewish Roman historian, (Antiquities of the Jews 14:11.7 – 296) Masada was the strongest fortress of them all at the time. (Antiquities of the Jews 14:13.7 352) Herod the Great fortified Masada between 37 and 31 BCE as a refuge for himself in the event of a revolt. Josephus (War of the Jews 4.7.2 -398) In 66 CE.
The Sicarii and their families that were expelled from Jerusalem during the rebellion were led by Elazar ben Ya’ir.
In 73-74 CE, the Roman governor of Judea, Lucius Flavius Silva, marched against Masada with the Roman 10th legion, Fretensis, and laid siege to the mountain. The Romans built a circumvallation wall and then a ramp against the western face of the mountain, using thousands of Jewish slaves to move thousands of tons of stones and beaten earth.
The account of the siege of Masada was related to Josephus by two women who survived the suicide by hiding inside a cistern along with several children. As Judaism discourages suicide, Josephus reported that the zealots defending the fortress had drawn lots and killed each other in turn, down to the last man, who would be the only one left to actually commit suicide.
The site of Masada was excavated between 1963 and 1965 by an expedition led by former Israeli Chief of Staff, Yigael Yadin.
In the past part of the Masada, the experience was to climb the mountain using the snake path. Today a cable car operates at the site.
The Roman ramp, 8 camps, and the circumvallation wall still can be clearly seen from the top of the mountain. Many of the old buildings have been restored from their remains, including the wall-paintings of Herod’s two main palaces, and the Roman bathhouses. The synagogue, storehouses, and houses of the Jewish rebels have also been identified and restored. An elaborate water system and cisterns with many large storerooms explain how the rebels managed to have enough food and water for such a long time.
Masada has been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Due to harsh climatic conditions all year round at the Dead Sea, it is recommended to visit these sites during the months of December through March.