20 Fascinating Facts

Masada is among the most visited places in Israel since it carries immense historical relevance. The Roman-Jewish War’s last battle was fought on a stony plateau where an ancient castle stood. Originally built in 31 BCE by King Herod, the fortification is now a museum. It was subsequently used as a safe haven by a gang of Jewish guerrillas. During the Roman occupation of the fortified city of Masada, the Romans learned that the rebels had decided to commit suicide rather than become slaves. The place is today a symbol of bravery and a renowned tourist destination.

History of Masada

Future archaeological excavations have mainly supported Josephus Flavius’s narrative of Masada’s history, partly since Josephus was Galilee’s military commander during the Great Revolt. Although no remains from Alexander Janaeus’ era have been found, Flavius claims that “Jonathan the High Priest” erected Masada’s first fort, which is assumed to have been built by the Hasmonean king Alexander Janaeus (who reigned 103–76 BC).

Knowing of Masada’s defensive qualities, Herod constructed a fortress-like structure there as a winter retreat and haven from adversaries, replete with a forbidding wall, storerooms, and cisterns to withstand the elements. The Romans established a garrison at Masada after the death of Herod and the acquisition of Judea. During the Great Jewish Revolt against the Romans, which erupted in 66 AD, a band of Jewish fighters known as the Sicarii, commanded by Menahem, captured and seized control of the Masada fortification complex.

The Siege of Masada

Rome spent the following several years eradicating Jewish insurgents in numerous towns and cities in the area. Lucius Flavius Silva, commander of the Legion X Fretensis, was given the task of capturing Masada in 73 CE. He constructed siege camps and a perimeter wall around the plateau to obliterate any possibility of escaping. Using Jewish prisoners of war, he erected a ramp on the west side of the cliff. A battering ram eventually broke the fortress’s walls thanks to a slope that made the work easier in April. It is still possible to see the remnants of the Roman encampment, the circumvallation wall, and parts of the ramp.

Josephus begins his account of the mass suicide at this moment. They discuss Eleazar ben Ya’ir’s talks on the subject of freedom and how it was preferable to die rather than be a slave of Rome. To demonstrate to Rome that they could withstand a siege, their food and supplies were allegedly brought into the open. At random, a few of the men were chosen to murder others, lay their corpses out for the Romans to see, and then take their own life. There were just a few youngsters and an elderly lady left to tell the tale, Josephus claims.

1
At an altitude below sea level, Masada's foothills are near the lowest spot on the planet, the Dead Sea. If you're standing at the summit of Masada, you aren't even that far up! The mountain's highest point is only 58 meters above sea level.
2
Herod the Great constructed a stronghold on top of Masada around 30 BCE. Herod planned on using it as a base of operations. Any incoming attackers may be seen from this location.
3
Many new Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers take their pledges of loyalty here today. They pledge that Masada, and by extension Israel, will never again be in jeopardy.
4
Since 2001, Masada has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
5
It's much too hot to walk up the mountain in the summer. Visitors may either ride the cable car or trek up the mountain in the early morning hours to see the sunset.
6
The Sicarii, a small band of Judean rebels who left Jerusalem in 66 AD and took up residence atop Masada, was expelled from the city. After the Romans' defeat of Jerusalem in 70 AD, the remainder of the rebels agreed to join the cause. The Romans were determined to demolish Masada, so they constructed camps around it. On the mountain's western side, they constructed a ramp and a tower as well. A total of 960 persons committed themselves rather than becoming slaves to the Romans when it became evident that the Romans would take Masada. In order to save their own lives, a small group of women and children took refuge in the cisterns under the Masada stronghold.
7
Masada was lost for centuries until academics rediscovered it in 1828. Shmariya Gutman, an Israeli archaeologist, discovered the site in 1953. There was a lot more excavation, and a lot of items were found in the 1950s and 1960s.
8
Fortresses have a variety of complexes, many of which may still be seen in the present-day landscape. There are bathhouses, pools, a synagogue, a cathedral, and a palace in the stronghold, as well as several storage spaces for food and armaments.
9
The site was investigated for ceramic shards in the 1950s. An archaeologist was able to read the names of Jewish residents by studying the fragments. Besides bones, they discovered a tallit and tefillin (Jewish prayer utensils). Bones were laid to rest in accordance with military rites.
10
There are several well-preserved antique buildings. Some structures, including the bathhouses, have stunning mosaic floors and walls.
11
One of Israel's most prominent tourist attractions, Masada, is now open to the public. Even a stunning light and sound performance are projected into the mountainside.
12
Many young Jews opt to hold their Bar Mitzvahs in Masada because of the site's historical and religious importance.
13
Operas and concerts may be seen at the foot of the mountain on occasion. Since the region has such good acoustics, artists and orchestras from all around come here to perform and record. In truth, Andrea Bocelli sang in Masada in 2011 in opera performance.
14
The Echo balcony is located at the edge of the plateau on the peak. You may scream out and hear the desert respond when you're in this desert. In this part of the world, an army of thousands of people can be heard in the echo of your voice. As a matter of fact, some scholars believe that the Judean rebels used this in order for their army's size to seem to be larger than it really was.
15
Cliffs plunge over 400 meters down one side of the mesa-like plateau. It's still just 58 meters above sea level when you're on top of it. The majority of its foundation would be submerged in the event of floods.
16
The history of Masada dates back 2,000 years. Herod the Great erected the stronghold of Masada between 37 BC and 31 BC. From Roman invasions and later invasions, it provided a haven. As a result of its elevated location, it had a clear view of approaching soldiers.
17
Masada prides itself on its military past and traditions. Today's IDF recruits swear their oath of allegiance to the state of Israel in Masada. Jewish soldiers have fought back against this fortress in the past. This is a continuation of this tradition.
18
MASADA, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located in the Jordan Valley. In 2001, UNESCO designated Masada as a World Heritage Site. Because of its long and colorful history, this location is crucial to studying human history and the cultural legacies of the Israeli people.
19
Tourists can quickly go to Masada. Masada may be visited year-round, even in the height of summer, thanks to the efforts of the Israeli tourism industry. Trekking to the summit of the mesa on foot at that time is not recommended; however, travelers may take a cable car up there instead.
20
Masada was the scene of a mass murder-suicide in antiquity. Following the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, the Romans turned their attention to the Jewish villages in the surrounding area in 66 AD. The fortress was home to 960 rebels known as the Sicarii. A Roman invasion proved too much for them; therefore, they all took their own lives to escape servitude, torture, and death at the hands of the Romans.

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