Masada

Also known as es-Sebbeh, Horvot Mezada, Mesada, Mezada, Sebbeh, The Stronghold

Masada aerial from northwest

Masada from northwest

The summit of Masada sits 190 feet (59 m) above sea level and about 1,500 feet (470 m) above the level of the Dead Sea.  The mountain itself is 1950 feet (610 m) long, 650 feet (200 m) wide, 4,250 feet (1330 m) in circumference, and encompasses 23 acres.  The "Snake Path" climbs 900 feet (280 m) in elevation.  From the west, the difference in height is 225 feet (70 m).

 

Masada Storehouses

Fifteen long storerooms kept essential provisions for time of siege.  Herod filled with them with food and weapons. Each storeroom held a different commodity.  This was attested by different storage jars and inscriptions on jars in rooms.  Wine bottles sent to Herod from Italy were found.

Masada storehouses

 

Masada synagogue

1st Century Synagogue

This synagogue was found in the first season of Yadin’s excavations.  No Second Temple period  synagogues were known at the time. Many coins from the Jewish Revolt were found here. An ostracon was found on the floor with inscription, “priestly tithe.” The back room served as a genizah.

 

Herod's Bathhouse

Herod had several private bathhouses built at Masada.  The caldarium depicted here had a heavy floor suspended on 200 pillars.  

Outside the room a furnace sent hot air under the floor.  When water was placed on the floor, steam was created.  Pipes were built into the walls to help to heat the room. 

Masada bathhouse caldarium reconstruction

 

Masada siege ramp

Siege Ramp

Investigation of tamarisk branches in the Roman siege ramp result in the conclusion that fifty percent more rain flowed through the wadis into the Dead Sea when Flavius Silva built the siege ramp.  

The ramp was built while siege engines and armed men protected the workers. Ultimately it allowed the Roman army to access the stronghold.

 

Siege Camp

A solid wall was built surrounding Masada and connected the eight Roman camps.  It was 6 feet thick and 7 miles long and built to prevent escaping.

An estimated 9,000 soldiers plus support personnel and slaves conducted the siege.

Szoltan discovered the first Roman siege camps in 1932.

Masada Roman siege camp aerial

Related Websites

At BiblePlaces.com, see the related sites of the Dead Sea, En Gedi, Qumran, Qumran Caves, Jericho, and the Judean Wilderness.

Masada (Walking in Their Sandals)  Gives easy-to-read information on the location, biblical significance, etc.  Features links to photographs and on-line Scripture references.

Masada (Christian Travel Study Program)  Features several good pictures with excellent identifying captions, accompanied by text briefly highlighting the history of the mountain fortress.

Masada: Desert Fortress Overlooking the Dead Sea (Israel MFA)  Gives a detailed history of the site and descriptions of many of the important archaeological features of the huge fortress.  Copy of this page at Jewish Virtual Library.

Masada: Symbol of Jewish Freedom (Israel MFA)  Gives greater insight into the meaning behind the last stand at Masada for the Jewish people today.

Masada (The Israeli Mosaic)  Contains informative sections on the geographic description,  history, archaeology, and getting there.  Links throughout allow for in-depth study.

Masada (Into His Own)  A brief, encyclopedia-type article with multiple links to related words and topics for further study.

Masada (Encyclopaedia of the Orient)  This brief articles offers a re-telling of the legendary story along with a timeline of historical events.

Masada (SMU, Donald D. Binder)  Focuses on the synagogue on top of Masada.  Highlights archaeological findings and other interesting facts, including several detailed photos with excellent descriptions.

Masada (Crystalinks)  Features a beautiful aerial photograph of the site, accompanied by an equally descriptive text emphasizing the site's symbolic significance to the Jewish people today.

Masada (Camp S'dei Chemed International)  Briefly describes the history and archaeological finds associated with the site. 

Masada (Department for Jewish Zionist Education)  Approaches the region from a distinctly Jewish perspective, clearly communicating the zionist spirit for which Masada remains a symbol.

Josephus, War of the Jews: Book VII (Sage Software)  Read the story of Masada in the words of Josephus.  Chapters 8-10 deal specifically with Masada.