|Publication Date||November 14, 1970|
The excavation from 1963 to 1965 of the Judean desert rock-fortress of Masada has taken its place as one of the most exciting and significant archaeological events of recent times. What prompted thousands of volunteers from so many different countries to endure the hardships and primitive conditions of the expedition? This stronghold overlooking the Dead Sea was the site on which Herod the Great erected some of his most daring buildings and also the scene of one of the most dramatic episodes in human history, when 960 Zealot defenders preferred to kill themselves rather than surrender to the Romans three years after the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem by Titus in 70 A.D. The only source of its history is the contemporary account by Josephus, who was one of the commanders in that very great revolt against Rome. Professor Yigael Yadin, the distinquished military leader and archaeologist, was invited to head the expedition, which found much evidence to conrfirm Josephus' descriptions, and in their dramatic account he describes the history of Masada in the first century A.D., the fascinating early attempts at its rediscovery by 19th and 20th-centruy explorers, and the full story of the biggest archaeological enterprise ever attempted in the Holy Land. His description of the campaigns and the treasures that were found is illustrated with the 200 photographs, half of them in full color. Among the many spectacular discoveries were: Herod's three-tiered palace-villa - its rooms adorned with wall paintings and simple mosaic floors; Herod's ceremonial palace with its multicololred mosaics; and the biggest collections of Jewish and Roman coins of the 1st century A.D. found in one excavation.