The bulk of construction at Masada, of which one sees today, was carried out by King Herod who ruled from 37 to 4 BCE. Barely two generations later, in 73 or 74 CE, Flavius Silva, provincial governor of Judea and the commander of the Tenth Roman Legion, attacked and destroyed most of the structures on Masada. What the Romans did not demolish was razed by the defenders themselves towards the end of the siege. Following Masada s destruction, small guard units of the Roman military camped on the rock cliff from time to time until the beginning of the second century CE. Masada was populated for close to 200 years. As a result of the extensive excavations carried out by Yigael Yadin from 1963 to 1965, the visitor can encounter remains from all three chronological periods the sleepy Masada guarded by a small military contingent of about 20 soldiers; the Masada in which hundreds of people were engaged in daily activities when Herod resided on the mountain, and the Masada of the rebels who sought refuge from the Roman army. No one is better qualifed than Hanan Eshel, with his vast experience in the field, wide historical knowledge and superb scholarship, to tell the full story of Masada.
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