Masada was a Jewish fortress built on a plateau overlooking the Dead Sea sometime in 37 to 31 BC by Herod the Great as a place of refuge in case of a revolt. The fortress included two palaces, storehouses, a synagogue, and a Roman-style bath. Around 66 AD a group of rebel Jews called the Sicarii overran the Roman garrison positioned there. More rebels came after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. In 72 AD the Roman governor Lucius Flavius Silva marched to Masada and laid siege with the X Fretensis legion. The Romans built a wall around Masada and then a ramp, although the ramp mainly consisted of a natural spur of the plateau which would have been easy to climb already; the rest was built in order to reach the wall. When the Romans finally gained entrance to Masada, they found that the approximately 960 rebels had committed mass suicide and had set fire to most of the buildings. After this it lay untouched for the majority of 1900 years, being rediscovered in 1842 and thoroughly searched in 1963 in almost perfect condition on account of the desert heat and dryness.

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The Plateau of Masada

The Plateau of Masada
by israeltourism, via Wikimedia Commons

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