Masada, Israel photo gallery
As recorded by Josephus Flavius, Herod had a luxurious and well-stocked refuge and winter palace built at Masada. Apparently he never used it before he died in 4 BCE. After the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, rebels fled to the fortress. When it became the last rebel stronghold in Judea, the Roman Tenth Legion of 8,000 troops laid siege to it over a few months. Once the Romans built a ramp up the side, it was clear to the rebels that they would lose. Their leader, Eleazar Ben Yair, convinced the 960 men, women and children that it would be better to kill themselves than to become slaves. And so they did. Or maybe they were simply slaughtered by the Romans, while Josephus Flavius, who may or may not have really been there, recorded an alternative history to soften the image. Whatever really happened here, Masada is the second most popular site to visit in Israel, next to Jerusalem, and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001. Two decades earlier, however, a television miniseries was filmed on location depicting the siege, and today the series is available on DVD at Amazon.
© Elizabeth Willoughby 2008
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