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[an error occurred while processing this directive]Masada, Israel

[an error occurred while processing this directive][an error occurred while processing this directive] Masada is a World Heritage Site in the Judean Desert in Israel. It protects the ancient palaces and fortifications erected between AD 72 and 73 by Jewish patriots in their resistance against Roman rule.

The fortifications of Masada is located on the eastern part of Israel, about 20 km (12 mi) to the east of Arad. They stand at the top of cliffs that range in height from 300 ft (91 m) to the west and 1,300 ft (400 m) to the east. At the top of the cliffs is a table-top plateau on which the the fortification was erected.

Aerial view of Masada, Israel
Aerial view of Masada, Israel
photo sourcehttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vista_general_de_Masada.jpg
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What we know about the fortifications of Masada came from the documentation made by the 1st century Jewish Roman historian Josephus. We learn that Masada was erected by Herod the Great between 37 and 31 BC as a refuge for himself, in case of a revolt by the Jewish community. This came to pass when the fortifications were captured by a Jewish extremist group, known as the Sicarii. This took place during the First Jewish-Roman War (also called the Great Jewish Revolt), which occurred from AD 66 to AD 73.

The First Jewish-Roman War was the rebellion staged by a Jewish political movement called the Zealots (from which the English word originate). They incited the Jewish community to rebel against Roman rule of Judea (also written as Iudaea in its Latin form) and to expel the Romans by force. The Sicarii were an extremist splinter group of the Zealots. They were not only against the Romans; they couldn't get along with other Jewish groups either. Under their leader Eleasar ben Ya'ir, the Sicarii took their position as Masada. In AD 70, more Sicarii members joined them along with their family members. They were thrown out of Jerusalem by the Jewish community there. Shortly thereafter, the Siege of Jerusalam of AD 70 took place. Led by Roman military commander and future Roman emperor Titus, the attack on Jerusalem destroyed the Second Temple, which had stood there from 515 BC, when the Jews returned from Babylon. (After Titus' death in AD 82, his brother Emperor Domitian built the Arch of Titus in Rome to commemorate Titus' victories, including the Siege of Jerusalem. The Arch of Titus still stands today.)

Remnants of Masada fortifications
Remnants of Masada fortifications
photo sourcehttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Masada04.JPG
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After the Sicarii captured Masada, they modified it for their use. Among the things they did was to renovate a chamber at Masada for use as a Synagogue. (It may already have been a synagogue built by Herod the Great.)

In AD 72, the Romans under the Governor of Judea, Lucius Flavius Silva, commandered Roman troops to lay siege of Masada. Strangely, the people holding up in Masada did not appear to counterattack. For months the Romans encircled Masada. During that time, they built a rampart to surround it. When the rampart was completed in AD 73, the Romans began their attack. They broke the wall of Masada's fortification and entered. According to Josephus, the Romans found that the Sacarii had committed mass suicide after setting ablaze all the buildings except the food storerooms. Modern archaelogical research on the site did not agree with Josephus' report, as only thirty skeletons were found at the site.

Masada was inscribed as a World Heritage Site during the X session of the World Heritage Committee

World Heritage Site Inscription Details

Location: N31 18 48.6 E35 21 9.9 in Israel
Inscription Year: 2001
Type of Site: Cultural
Inscription Criteria: III, IV, VI

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