Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Biblical Archaeology Society Online Archive
The Masada Siege - From the Roman Viewpoint
The thousands of tourists who come here every year to visit the spectacular ruins of the Herodian fortress-palace exposed by Yigael Yadin’s famous excavation between 1963 and 1965 are treated by their guides to an equally stirring account of the sustained resistance mounted here by a band of determined Jewish fighters against the implacable might of the Roman Empire. Eventually, with their defenses breached and defeat inevitable, the defenders are celebrated for choosing mass suicide over the ignominy of surrender.
It’s a Natural: Masada Ramp Was Not a Roman Engineering Miracle
A band of 967 Jewish rebels retreats to a desert mountaintop fortress following the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D. Two years later the Roman army sets out to quell this last vestige of the Great Jewish Revolt. Finally, in a massive construction effort, the Romans build a large assault ramp, wheel a battering ram to the top of the mount and destroy the fortress’s defenses.
The Last Days and Hours at Masada
Yigael Yadin’s famous excavations of Herod’s Masada desert fortress in the 1960s brought the final chapter of the First Jewish Revolt vividly to life. What was uncovered on this long abandoned mountaintop? In “The Last Days and Hours at Masada,” Ehud Netzer reviews Yadin’s finds, from Herod’s two palaces to the casemate wall that Josephus reports the Romans set ablaze to gain entry into the fortress. Discover how well Josephus’s dramatic—and dramatized—account of the siege of Masada holds up to the archaeological evidence.
Masada - UNESCO World Heritage Site
Masada is a rugged natural fortress, of majestic beauty, in the Judaean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea. It is a symbol of the ancient kingdom of Israel, its violent destruction and the last stand of Jewish patriots in the face of the Roman army, in 73 A.D. It was built as a palace complex, in the classic style of the early Roman Empire, by Herod the Great, King of Judaea, (reigned 37 – 4 B.C.). The camps, fortifications and attack ramp that encircle the monument constitute the most complete Roman siege works surviving to the present day.
UNESCO Aerial Map
Interactive aerial map.
Masada - Archaeological Excavations
Masada: The strongest of them all
Atop the forbidding, isolated rock plateau of Masada, students of the program, took to the dry desert dust with trowels in hand. Each student worked the tools of the modern archaeological excavation, from trowels and turreahs, to total stations, and carried with them a knowledge of the intricate history of the site, having spent a semester in the classroom led in study by dig director, Dr. Guy Stiebel.
A Tour of Masada: Where History, Legend, and Archaeology Meet.
One of the most impressive tours we’ve had this year was, without doubt, our field trip to Masada, the famous desert stronghold, next to the Dead Sea. We were guided by esteemed Professor Guy Stiebel, who is also the director of excavations there. He gave us a fascinating and in-depth tour of the site, sharing both historical and excavation related stories.
Archaeologists get set to dig at Masada, after 11-year hiatus
Tel Aviv University team will excavate rebel dwellings, Herod’s gardens in month-long expedition at UNESCO heritage site.
Jewish Virtual Library
Archaeology in Israel: Masada Desert Fortress
Masada (Hebrew for fortress) is the place where the last Jewish stronghold against Roman invasion stood.
More than two thousand years have passed since the fall of the Masada fortress yet the regional climate and its remoteness have helped to preserve its remains. Masada was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2001.
Masada Siege Tower
Click on the image to learn about Roman Siege Warfare.