Located on giant rock plateau above the Dead Sea, Masada was first built by the Macabbeans, yet later transformed into an impregnable fortress by King Herod the Great. Walls circled the perimter, hugh warehouses were designed to store loads of supplies, a sophisticated water system was installed, and two palaces were built, one in the most daring plan on the at the nortern edge of the mountaion. It is not known if Herod ever actually stayed in his royal desert fortress at Masda, but there is ample of evidence of re-use of the site by Jewish rebels and refugees at the end of the Big Jewish Rebellion (66-74 CE),
In accordance with the historical description of Flavius Josephus, the site presents also dramtic evidence of the Tenth legion siege on Masada, including a massive ramp that enabled breaching through the site’s walls by a battering ram on top of a hight tower. Yet according to Josephus, the rebels prefering death to Roman slavery, killed their families, and commitied suicide. The site was used centuries later as a modest scale Christian monastery, yet it was later abandoned, and even its location was forgotton. Masada would be rediscovered only in the 19th century, and excavated throughly in the 1960’s by an Israeli archaeological expedition led by Prof. Yigal Yadin.
The most significant artifacts retrieved in the excavations are on display today in a special museum located in the visitors center of Masda.
The site is significant also in modern times as a sumbol of the state of Israel. It was adopted by the Zionist movement as a symbol for Jewish resiliance and resistance to foreign oppresion. Many IDF army units, as well as Israeli and Jewish youth groups visit the site, and it is common to conclude the visit with a call “Masada shall never fall again!“