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Reconstruction of Masada
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The Myth of Masada
The 2,000 year old hilltop fortress stands as a revered symbol of Jewish nationalism - but does the historic record support the myth or a very different reality?
War and Remembrance: Masada and Gamla.
Masada owes its fame not to Herod the Great but to a well-known episode in The Jewish War (7.252-406) by the first-century Jewish writer Flavius Josephus. He writes that Masada was occupied by a certain Eleazar ben Yair and his followers, members of the Sicarii, a band of Jewish opponents of Roman rule who resorted to violence and murder to rid their homeland
of the Romans and their collaborators. After the fall of Jerusalem in 70 c.e. the Tenth Legion under Flavius Silva laid siege to Masada for three years. When it became clear that Masada was going to fall, Eleazar exhorted his followers to commit suicide rather than be captured and sent into slavery by the Romans. Ten men were chosen to kill the others. After completing
their grisly task, the ten then turned their swords on each other. The Romans
found the bodies of 960 men, women, and children on the summit of Masada.
The Northern Palace at Masada — Herod's Ship of the Desert?
In Volumes III and V of the Masada Final Reports, Ehud Netzer and Gideon Foerster highlighted the striking differences between the Northern and Western Palaces built by Herod at the site. Whereas the Western Palace is a hybrid of ancient Middle Eastern and east Greek architectural elements, the Northern Palace bears the stamp of Rome, and shows strong affinities with palatial edifices built for Augustus and Marcus Agrippa. This paper endeavours to show that the Northern Palace was consciously modelled on a pleasure boat, probably inspired by the construction of Herod's city of Caesarea with its magnificent artificial harbour. It should then be re-dated to between about 20 and 15 BCE. This would be consistent with the assigning by Netzer of Herod's Third Winter Palace at Jericho, which likewise displays strong Roman characteristics, to c. 15–14 BCE. An analysis is presented of the plan of the Northern Palace, which explains how it was conceived as a unitary scheme and highlights both the principles and specific proportions that were employed in its design.