Masada

31.315556,35.353611

Masada is the dramatic ruin of a lavish fortified palace on a plateau overlooking the Dead Sea that was built by Herod the Great between 37 and 31 BCE. From 66 to 73 CE, the fortress would be the home of the final Jewish holdouts in a revolt against Rome. That final stand takes on contemporary Zionist symbolism as, reputedly, Israeli Defense Forces soldiers that complete basic training are sworn in on the sight in a ceremony that ends with the declaration, "Masada shall not fall again."

The construction of such a facility (including bathhouses) in such a desolate place is testament to both the skill and the audacity of the Romans. Perhaps the most notable engineering feat was the creation of series of lower level dams and cisterns that permitted capture of brief seasonal floods to provide water for year-round use on the plateau. But the fact that the Romans could mobilize and compel enough surplus slave labor to survive the harshness of the construction environment and build such a frivolity is also remarkable. The fact that a group of Jews would rather die here than submit to Roman rule may be testament to how horrible that rule was, and/or how uniquely committed the Jewish people have been to preserving their own identity.

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Masada
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Visitor center
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Masada
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Opera theatre
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Masada National Park
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Entering visitor center
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Model
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Admission prices
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Visitor center
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Visitor center
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Tram
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Tram pulley
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Cable up to Masada
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Cable up to Masada
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Tram
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Control panel
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Snake path
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Wadi
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Snake path
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Tram
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Tram info
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Snake path
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Cables down to visitor center
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Bridge from tram
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Snake path
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Opera theatre
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Cables down to visitor center
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Valley
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Snake path gate info
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Tourists
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Tourists
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Stairs up to palace
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Looking southwest from the palace
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Climbing to the palace
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Dead tree
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Black line marks point of reconstruction
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Reconstruction line
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Tzachi
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Western Palace
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Quarry sign
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Quarry
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Quarry
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The group
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Commandant's Residence
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Commandant's Residence
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Commandant's Residence
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Commandant's Residence
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Surviving wall painting
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Surviving wall painting
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Commandant's Residence
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Main entrance square
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Main entrance square
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Storerooms
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Model view from west
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Model view from northwest
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Life in a fortified palace
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Model view from northeast
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Storerooms complex
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Escaping the sun
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Storerooms complex
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Storerooms complex
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Storerooms complex
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Large bathhouse
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Wall painting
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Bathing info
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Bathhouse model
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Bathhouse map
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Cold room
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Cold room
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Bathhouse
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Bathhouse
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Suspended floor pillars
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Tzachi
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Suspended floor reconstruction
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Bathhouse
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Leaving the bathhouse
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Furnace
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Architectural remnants
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Discovery of the lots
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Pathway
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Pathway
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Discovery of the lots
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Catapult stones
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Catapult stones
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Upper terrace
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Upper terrace
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Upper terrace
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Upper terrace
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Upper terrace
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Upper terrace
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Upper terrace
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Wadi
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Remnants of Roman encampment
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Upper terrace
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Model of northern palace
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Looking down at the northern palace
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Looking south at the storeroom complex
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Heading west
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Stairs down to northern palace
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Western entrance square
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Grackels?
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Pidgeon
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Guard room
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Guard room
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Walking south
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Pathways
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Cistern
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Cistern
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Overlooking cistern
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Cistern
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Cistern
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Cistern
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Model of wadi and lower cisterns
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Model
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Model
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Map of water system
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Path to northern palace
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Walking south
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Roman siege ramp
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Pottery
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Resting
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The synagogue
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The synagogue
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The synagogue
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Stables
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Stables
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Stables
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Casemate of the scrolls
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Casemate of the scrolls
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Stables
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Columbarium
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Columbarium
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Columbarium nests for birds
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Columbarium
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Columbarium
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Columbarium
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Columbarium
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Breaching point
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Roman siege ramp
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Catapult stones
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Looking west
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Byzantine church
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Byzantine church
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Byzantine church
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Byzantine church
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Headed back down
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Israeli flag at Masada
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Mom
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Water channel?
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Reboarding the tram
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The tram
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Cables down to visitor center
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Moving cable track
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Exiting the tram
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Exiting the tram
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Back on the bus
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Visitor center
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Masada
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Masada
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Opera theatre
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Masada